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December 3, 2013

WISH BOOK: Fouches trying to move past bad luck

Wish Book family recovering from series of unfortunate incidents

HENRYVILLE — For many of the families affected by the March 2, 2012, tornadoes that destroyed parts of Southern Indiana, the road to recovery began the day after the storm.

Not so for the Fouch family, which is still reeling. The tornadoes may have blown in their windows, ruined their furniture and robbed them of items that commemorated their past, but more recent events have stolen from them their ability to work and provide for themselves.

“You just don’t realize how lucky [you are], because in one day your whole world can be flipped upside down and you could have nothing,” said Ericka Fouch, 25.

In August 2012, Ericka’s husband Brian Fouch, 37, was preparing to burn a pile of debris still left over from the tornadoes. He was using gasoline to fuel the fire, and he had poured a trail of fuel away from the pile to avoid having to get too close while lighting it. But the plan backfired, and Fouch was flown to Wishard Memorial Hospital to receive treatment for second- and third-degree burns that covered 48 percent of his body.

Brian is still recovering from those injuries. A construction worker by trade, he is left unable to work because of doctor’s orders that prevent him from being exposed to sunlight for prolonged periods.

Another incident this year compounded the family’s problems. Ericka was driving along Utica-Sellersburg Road on her way to the grocery store in September when her car left the road and struck a telephone pole. When police responded, she was in the midst of suffering an epileptic seizure. After the seizure subsided, officers asked her basic questions to evaluate her disorientation.

“I got almost all of the questions they asked me wrong,” Ericka recalled. “I was very disoriented, and I didn’t know what had happened until they told me.”

She was taken to the hospital where — in addition to a broken ankle and a previously undiagnosed case of epilepsy — doctors found damage on the right side of her brain.  

“They put me on some medication, which — my insurance doesn’t cover it, so it’s very expensive,” Ericka said. “I have to take that every day. It seemed to help. I’ve had two [seizures] since the car wreck, even with taking the medication.”

Medicaid won’t pay for the medication Ericka takes to prevent seizures and stave off further brain damage. With Brian already on disability, it looks like Ericka isn’t far behind.

“She can’t drive. That’s the big thing,” said Carla Amburgey, Ericka’s mother. “There’s certain things that she can’t do now.”

The couple does have family to rely upon for help. Ericka’s grandparents, retirees Jeanne and Jim McReynolds, own the small brick house the couple lives in, just less than a mile away from their own home off Speith Road. But their house is still in a state of disrepair, more than a year out from the tornadoes.

“We had real bad roof damage that we still haven’t been able to get that fixed yet,” Ericka said. “But we’re trying to work on it. We had the house actually shift. You can see in the brick where it shifted.

“We lost everything inside because it was all wet and damaged, basically ruined.”

Ericka and Brian are parents to two young children, Adalynn, 23 months, and Wyatt, 6 months. The couple is hoping to secure a bed for Adalynn as she grows out of infancy and into toddlerhood.

After the run of bizarre, bad luck, the Fouches could use a change of fortunes. The family needs a new crib and crib sheets, baby formula, wipes, baby food, diapers and laundry detergent. The family’s bare living room could use a new couch.

The Fouches — one of this year’s Wish Book families — hope to provide the young children with a merry Christmas, but could use some help on that front as well. Wyatt needs toys appropriate for a 9-month-old boy, while Adalynn hopes for Fisher Price Little People toys, especially the Disney Princess Klip Klop Stable.

As for Brian and Ericka, both could use clothes and a new set of bedsheets for a queen bed.

Despite all that has happened in the last two years, Ericka and Brian realize that things could be worse. Ericka is just happy that the people she cares about are still around.

“We’ve all got each other, and that’s all that matters,” Ericka said.

To learn how you can help, see the related information box about the Wish Book program.

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Shelbe Dorman, right, and Taylor Wirth hug following their 2013 commencement ceremony at New Albany High School.

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