Student Left in Coma After Car Accident

Alpha Gamma Delta Beta Beta alumna and North Dakota State student, Danielle ‘Nella’ Pitzen, 25, was in an accident April 2, which has left her in a coma in a long-term facility.

Pitzen is working toward a degree in medical lab services and looks forward to being involved in research. People know her for her love of country music, being a hard worker and enjoying time to spend with her friends.

After being stable enough to transport, Pitzen was transported from Essentia Health to Regency Hospital in Golden Valley, Minnesota April 20 for long-term care and their traumatic brain injury unit.

After the accident Pitzen was left with two broken vertebrae, a broken arm and ribs as well as being in a coma. She has been slowly improving, for her tracheal infection went from a white blood cell count of 20 to 12.2 and her temperature has decreased as well, according to her mother’s post on Caring Bridge.

“Sometimes she’s responsive to commands and sometimes not — but still in an unconscious state, still in a coma,” Pitzen’s aunt Sandy Sutter said. On her updated Caring Bridge page, Pitzen’s mother explains how she is having “ICU delirium and serotonin syndrome reactions.”

At this time Pitzen is still in a coma, but she is not alone. Her mother has been with her every day since the day of the accident. Her two older brothers stayed by her side for a full week and continue to visit on weekends. After the first week in the hospital, Pitzen’s father was involved in an accident and is recuperating at home, so he can only visit occasionally.

Along with this, one friend has continued to visit her every day and others visit occasionally.

In the crash, Pitzen was entering I-94 from the 45th Street exit. “As she was accelerating underneath the underpass at that location the roadway was icy and she was accelerating and lost control, which caused her to cross the median at that location into the path of an on coming vehicle and was struck at a right angle in the westbound lanes of I-94,” Capt. Bryan Niewind of the North Dakota Highway Patrol explained.

The family is being told that after an injury like Pitzen’s it can take from 13 to 15 months to regain cognitive abilities and physically it may take 15 to 18 months.

“We were looking at it in terms of ‘this is a long haul’,” Sutter said. “A long-term recovery thing is a marathon not a sprint.”

The family has started a GoFundMe page with a goal of raising $15,000 to help with the cost of Pitzen’s care. They now have a little over $5,000 to go.

Mission Nutrition donated a portion of their proceeds from shakes and teas Wednesday, April 18 to Pitzen’s care. Scheels, Pitzen’s place of work, is selling bracelets to help fundraise, and her friend is selling shirts all to donate to her long-term care.

Although the family would like to remain private, Sutter explained that she wanted “to make sure that the students that she goes to school with know about her situation and had a way to follow it.”

Her family is hopeful that she will wake up, ending her Caring Bridge page with, “We are waiting for the moment that our special girl wakes up.”

Further updates on Pitzen’s condition can be found on CaringBridge.org and GoFundMe.com.

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