Caryn Stewart is just like any other teenager attending High School, participating in extracurricular activities and planning a graduation. But she has an extraordinary story to tell. Caryn was involved in the 2005 Piper Cherokee airplane crash that killed her cousin, mother and elder sister. She suffered third and fourth degree burns on three-fourth of her body and yet fought on. She recalls as the initial days being excruciating and torturous. Although for better part of a month she was kept under an induced coma, every waking moment was like a living hell for the then second grader.
Older pictures of Caryn show her limbs wide apart from her body, as far as possible wrapped in thick white bandages. Hundreds of tubes zigzagging their way in and out of her, that kept her alive for weeks. Initial pictures show her face distorted in extreme pain whenever she attempted to move or sit up. Gradually over a period of 6 months and several aids she gained the strength to barely walk again. It was not an easy job for a second grader for whom waking up mean nothing but pain and memories of loss. She underwent over 20 skin grafts and still has burn marks on her back, arms and legs. But today, her courage and enthusiasm do not stop her from doing day to day activities on the farm. She has survived and has proven herself to be a winner.
In her YouTube narration she described how she “had been to hell and back”. Her story serves as a source of inspirations for the hundreds who have suffered much. As she recalls, the day started off as usual when her family and she had hopped on the plane to get a bird’s eye view of their farm. However as soon as the plane took off it burst into flames causing death of her mother Connie, who as then 38 years old, Sarah, her sister, 11 years old and her cousin Andy Bryan.
During those years many of the plane accidents were blamed on “irresponsible” pilots as was the case here. The case was closed by Federal Bureau of Investigation and the airplane part manufacturers. However a detailed investigation revealed a glitch in the carburetor that was the likely cause of the engine failure. This provoked a new court case against the plane part manufacturer. But Caryn’s story is much more than just a lawsuit resulting in settlement. Stewart and her family did receive a $ 19 million settlement much about which is not currently disclosed by the claimants.
Over the years of her struggle she developed a very close relationship with her father Brian Stewart, a Fayette Country farmer. As a kid she had also attended the Miracle Burn Camp, where she met a lot of kids approximately her age who had survived similar injuries. Stewart quotes, “Like all teenagers even I was insecure at a point about my looks, the webbings on my skin, however now I am past that. I try to be a role model for the many out there who need help to get over difficult times.” Her father has always encouraged her knack for music and right now she is quite a regular performer at her high school. The hardships in life have tested her quite mercilessly but she never lets go of the beautiful smile on her face.
She is a true inspiration for the many out there who have suffered some form of disfigurement or the other in their lives. Something that makes them feel insecure and smaller than the rest. Caryn Stewart has shown to the millions that one unfortunate chapter from the past is not enough to ruin one’s life. Narrating one’s life on the basis of one mishap is wrong and the one’s positive outlook is all that matters when it comes to life. Today, Caryn Stewart performs at school functions at North Fayette Valley High School. She is quite popular for her radiant smile and positive attitude. She flaunts her new lip piercings and fusses over her boyfriend who thinks she is just perfect. But 12 may comes with a lot of unforgettable pain for this young woman. At the end of the day she firmly believes, “My survival wasn’t a mistake. My life didn’t go to waste.”