Crash victim takes first steps toward reclaiming her life

John A Pavoncello
York Dispatch

It's been six months since a man allegedly driving under the influence slammed into Cheyann Miller in front of her York City home, changing her life forever.

After waking up from a coma to find her right leg had been amputated and her left mangled, Miller has been anxiously awaiting the day she could walk again.

She took her first steps during an appointment last Wednesday at Ability Prosthetics & Orthotics, 960 S. George St.

Sitting in her wheelchair in the waiting room, Miller looked edgy.

"I'm nervous," she said.

A short time later, Miller was in room dominated by a long section of handrails for arm-assisted walking. Motivational posters with amputee athletes and firefighters hung on the wall.

Taffy Bowman, a certified prosthetist orthotist — a health professional specifically  trained to make and fit orthotics and prosthetics — walked into the room holding Miller's new test leg.

After being outfitted with a KISS suspension strap to hold on her prosthesis and a bit of fitting and adjustments, Miller stood up on her new prosthetic leg and looked down at two sneakers.

Standing at the hand rails, Bowman suggested Miller "try to think about driving your hip forward and then planting your heel."

And with that, Miller took her first step.

After about two hours of tweaking the fit of the prosthesis and a hip-to-foot brace for her damaged left leg, and multiple trips walking down the hand rail, Miller rested while her leg and equipment was bagged up to go home.

She said she is "overwhelmed, but excited" and that it "felt great" to take her first steps in six months.

This journey is just beginning for the 29-year-old mother of two. The new, microprocessor-controlled hydraulic leg and a stiff, hip-to-sole brace on her left leg will help Miller walk again, but relearning how to be mobile will require her to spend a couple of weeks in rehab and several more working at home with her occupational therapist, Jamie Bartolo.

After learning to walk on the temporary prosthesis, Miller will be fitted with her permanent leg.

Miller was unloading groceries from her vehicle on Aug. 10 when a 2007 Saturn Ion driven by Tyler James Connelly, 25, of 700 Cassell Road, Apt. 27, in Newberry Township, crashed into her.

Connelly didn't swerve or brake before the 4 p.m. crash, according to police, who said Connelly and a passenger were high after using some of the 10 bags of heroin they had bought earlier that day in York City.

Connelly is awaiting trial on charges of aggravated assault, aggravated assault by vehicle while driving under the influence, causing an accident that resulted in death or injury while not properly licensed, aggravated assault by vehicle, careless driving and driving with a suspended license.