[Last updated on October 2, 2015, at 1:46 p.m.]
Ocala, Florida — On Sunday, September 20, the sun was just going down when John Chiguina, 37, and his girlfriend, Jennifer “Shelley” Turner, 42, decided to go for a ride on Chiguina’s black 2014 Kawasaki Vulcan motorcycle.
Little did the couple know that their lives would change shortly after they began their joy ride.
Ocala police said that Cheryl Johnson, 46, who was driving a white 1999 Mitsubishi Galant was traveling westbound on Northwest 35th Street.
At the same time, Chiguina was traveling eastbound on Northwest 35th Street, passing through the intersection of Northwest 2nd Avenue.
As Chiguina was passing through the intersection, Johnson made a left hand turn onto Northwest 2nd Avenue headed southbound. It was at that time that the Galant violated the right-of-way of the Vulcan and slammed into the left side of the motorcycle.
The impact crushed both Chiguina’s and Turner’s left leg. They were both transported to Ocala Regional Medical Center with severe injuries.
A short time later, Johnson stated that she also needed to go to the hospital because of her hypertension.
After hearing that Johnson would also be transported to the hospital, Officer Drue Hunley performed a computer check on her and discovered that Johnson did not have a valid driver’s license.
According to records, Johnson is considered a habitual offender.
With that, Officer Hunley immediately drove to the hospital and confronted Johnson. During the conversation, she admitted that she has not had a driver’s license for the past three years because she could not pay for auto insurance. Additionally, the vehicle she was driving belonged to her daughter.
“I never drive but I needed something from the store, so I drove my daughter’s car to get it. The next thing I knew, I was in a crash,” Johnson said. She went on to say, “I was blinded by the sun setting.”
Johnson was arrested and transported to the Marion County Jail and charged with Driving While License Suspended-Habitual Offender (F). She was released on Monday on a $2,000 bond.
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Chiguina had to have his left leg amputated from the knee down and has undergone multiple surgeries since Sunday.
Turner’s left was broken in several places, and she, too, has had to have multiple surgeries to repair the damage to her leg.
Astonishingly for having just endured a very life changing traumatic experience, the two have stayed strong, relied on each other for support, and have been in good spirits throughout the ordeal.
On Thursday, for the first time since the accident, Turner, with some help from hospital staff, was able to get out of bed. However, she is unable to maneuver without a walker.
The hospital has also been very accommodating, and at times, has allowed them to stay in the same room together.
In addition to the accommodating hospital staff, Turner’s and Chiguina’s Facebook pages have literally been filled with hundreds of get well messages.
On Thursday night, Turner wrote, “As the saying goes ‘what doesn’t kill us only makes us stronger’ this man is my rock and my soul mate. Our bond is unbreakable. With every new obstacle he faces he amazes me. The man above made him especially for me. I love you with everything I am. Nothing will ever change that!”
Chiguina wrote, “I survived, I will get to bother my Shells (his nickname for Turner) for many more years.”
The couple faces a long road of recovery, but they have a large support system behind them.
On September 29, Chiguina and Turner (Shells) were cleared for discharge from the hospital. They are now recovering while in the comfort of their own home.
When asked how he was doing considering the circumstances, Chiguina replied, “I can’t seem to get a leg up.”
Even after the dust settled and the nightmare set in as reality, Chiguina has maintained his sense of humor.
Chiguina, who has been employed by the City of Ocala for nearly 19 years, said that the city has been great to him.
“I’ve always felt in my almost 19 years of service that everyone was more than coworkers and friends, we’ve been more family than anything,” Chiguina said.
In addition to the couple’s long road of recovery and rehabilitation, they also face a mountain of medical bills. Therefore, a GoFundMe account was set up on their behalf.
If you would like to donate, you can visit the webpage at https://www.gofundme.com/x954yrpg.