For nearly six hours, a Greenwood woman called hospitals, tow truck yards and family members looking for her husband, who had not made it into work and wasn’t answering his phone.
At first, she thought she was being paranoid, until her sister-in-law found a news story about a serious accident on Interstate 65 about 9:30 a.m. Thursday. The accident happened in the southbound lanes of the interstate, between Franklin and Edinburgh, which is on her husband’s commute to work as an accountant in Columbus.
More than six hours after the serious accident, family members of Allen Bidwell, 37, of Greenwood, found out he was in an Indianapolis hospital in critical condition, with head and spinal injuries. He remained unconscious and in critical condition Friday in the intensive care unit at Indiana University Health Methodist Hospital, according to Amy Bidwell, his sister.
Family members said the father of three is fighting for his life.
Bidwell was seriously injured when a dump truck slammed into the back of his car in a construction zone on I-65. After the accident, Bidwell was flown to the hospital on a medical helicopter.
But neither his sister nor his wife, Sherri Bidwell, were notified of the accident, they said. Instead, the two women spent hours Thursday piecing together where Allen was and why he wasn’t responding to their texts and calls, Amy Bidwell said.
“If we didn’t make our own calls, I don’t know if we would have ever found out because I don’t know if anyone would have ever called us,” Amy Bidwell said.
Hospital officials told Sherri Bidwell they tried to call, but the phone numbers they had on file were incorrect. At Indiana University Health, the protocol is to try and reach out to the family when a patient is brought in, said Whitney Ertel, director of public relations. She did not know specific information about this situation.
“I know the first priority of care is to stabilize the patient. But we almost always try to reach out to the family,” Ertel said.
Indiana State Police, which investigated the accident, said notifying family is not their responsibility. State police will notify family members of a fatal accident because they don’t want them to find out through the media, Sgt. Rich Myers said.
“With a personal-injury accident, the hospital usually makes the notification. We just don’t do that,” he said.
Family members are frustrated and upset they weren’t notified and that they struggled to even get information about what happened in the accident.
“It wasn’t like he just bumped his head. He has serious injuries, and nobody knew. He’s in the intensive care unit, and we don’t know what happened, how it happened. We don’t know anything,” Amy Bidwell said.
“It’s infuriating that nobody got in contact with us.”
Allen Bidwell commutes from Greenwood to the Circle K corporate office in Columbus, where he works as an accountant. When his wife called his office just after 10 a.m. Thursday because she had not heard from him, his boss said Bidwell had not made it in yet and didn’t call, which was not like him, Amy Bidwell said.
Sherri Bidwell first used an app to track her husband’s cellphone and found out the phone was in Franklin at a towing yard. Just as his wife was getting ready to drive to Franklin, Amy Bidwell found an article about an accident on I-65, south of Franklin.
Suddenly, they no longer felt paranoid.
Amy Bidwell got on her work phone and cellphone, calling towing companies and hospitals. Just before 3 p.m., she reached someone at IU Health Methodist Hospital — the second time she had called that hospital — who told her that Allen Bidwell was there.
But they couldn’t tell her what his condition was or what unit of the hospital was treating him, she said.
She passed along phone numbers of family members to be called as information was available. That’s when Sherri Bidwell learned her husband of 14 years was in the intensive care unit, unconscious, with injuries to his back, ribs and head, Amy Bidwell said.
Upset she hadn’t known sooner where her husband was, Sherri Bidwell asked why the hospital hadn’t called his family. She was told a representative from the hospital did in fact try to call but didn’t have accurate, or current, phone numbers, Amy Bidwell said.
So, Sherri Bidwell notified her family about what had happened around 4:30 p.m., as she was heading to the hospital, asking her sister-in-law to pick up their three children, ages 8, 5 and 1. Amy Bidwell took them to get hot chocolate and toys and then to dinner, trying to keep the focus off the day’s events.
“I didn’t know if I should tell them. It was difficult. But being around them kept me emotionally in check. So, I told them their dad was in an accident and was in the care of the best doctors,” Amy Bidwell said.
They texted their mom that they loved their dad and were worried about him, and just before bed time they asked to pray for him, Amy Bidwell said.
“Your heart just drops,” she said. “When I took them to school on Friday they all said maybe he’ll feel better today.”