Freshmen Angi Ausen and Luke Arndt are marked for life.
The two friends have similar burns on their shoulders from the seat belts that saved them during the accident that took the life of fellow freshman Angelica Moustardas Sept. 28, 2000.
It?s no surprise that the accident has affected the two friends? lives in many ways, especially since they returned to UR for the spring semester.
Before going anywhere in a car with friends, for example, ?we don?t let them drive before our seat belt is on,? Ausen said.
The two do not remember details from the crash. However, investigators believe an animal startled them and caused Ausen to veer the truck to the right, overcompensate into the left lane and roll over five or six times.
?It was completely beyond anyone?s control,? Arndt said.
Moustardas had been sitting behind Arndt on the third seat of Ausen?s 2000 Sonoma pickup, which Ausen was driving. Moustar-das? seat had a lap belt but no shoulder harness. She was ejected from the vehicle. Police say that she died instantaneously.
?That was kind of hard to take, kind of hard to hear,? Ausen said.
The three were driving through Canada on their way home to Flint, Mich. for their high school?s homecoming weekend.
Because it is the most direct route between western New York and Detroit, Arndt and Ausen were bound to drive down that road again. But Ausen made sure she was asleep the next time she traveled past the crash site, two miles west of Reeses Corner in Ontario, Canada.
Arndt remembers stopping for gas just before the accident. He purchased a can of tomato juice, which he does not think he will ever drink again.
As a result of the accident, Arndt suffered some brain damage and severe scalp lacerations, as well as chipping a bone in his arm.
?My scalp was pretty much just hanging off the top of my head,? he said. ?I have seen my own skull.?
Even with stitches, he required surgery to stretch the skin so it would cover the area. Grafts are not possible on the skull because there is nothing to attach them to.
?That was the biggest relief in my life, when the hole in my head was closed,? he said.
Ausen suffered a collapsed lung and shattered shoulder blade as well as a fractured right arm. Doctors secured a metal plate around the break in the bone with eight screws.
Through the surgery and the accident, two of her nerves were also damaged, but she has regained the ability to lift her left arm. Ausen still has a spot on her upper arm that ranges from hypersensitive to numb.
In May, she will have reconstructive surgery on her left ear, which was damaged in the accident.
Arndt has chosen not to have plastic surgery on his scars, which have mostly been covered by hair.
Before the accident, Ausen had been training during preseason with the varsity basketball team, and after spring break she began working out with them again with her doctor?s permission.
?I couldn?t even run when I got here,? Ausen said. ?I couldn?t work out, which has been a staple of my life.?
Her teammates are ?very glad just to have her back and playing again,? coach Jim Scheible said.
It was also a different experience for the two when they returned to campus.
Ausen?s return to Burton Hall was welcomed.
?The mood has been really positive on our hall and everyone is glad to have Angi back,? said sophomore and D?Lion Suzanne Clark.
?I was kind of worried that people would barrage us with questions,? Ausen said. ?I didn?t want to have to tell the same story over and over again.?
Because the two missed 76 percent of the first semester, they are technically first-semester freshmen. Arndt, a film studies student and Ausen, who studies English, have been reclassified as members of the Class of 2005.
This didn?t worry Arndt.
?I?ve got no rush,? Arndt said. ?I?m a whole semester ahead of my class.?
But they didn?t just miss class time. Arndt and Ausen said that because they spent the rest of the semester recovering and undergoing physical and occupational therapy at home, they missed out on important freshman milestones that help form friendships.
?It was difficult because everyone had already acclimated themselves,? Arndt said. ?All of the freshmen had done all the freshman things.?
But now Arndt and Ausen share a bond that won?t easily be broken. Although the two attended the same high school, they did not become good friends until they came to UR.
It has without a doubt been a difficult emotional experience. In addition to having physical therapy, while at home Ausen saw a psychologist and Arndt met with a counselor to help them deal with the accident.
?You forget for a while how intense it really was,? Ausen said.