Fairfield teen put in coma by OVI driver graduates with senior class: ‘I never quit’

Caila Nagel says she plans to go into medicine to help others.
Published: Jul. 8, 2022 at 9:00 PM EDT
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FAIRFIELD, Ohio (WXIX) – Two years after a teenager was seriously hurt in a drunk-driving crash, she is defeating the odds by graduating from high school and taking online college classes with the goal of going into healthcare to help future patients.

“I would like to help people, to help people like me with a brain injury—I want to be part of their stories,” Caila Nagel said Friday.

Caila and her friend, Savannah Schlueter, were hit by an intoxicated driver on May 6, 2020, at Ohio 4 and Symmes Road in Fairfield.

Caila Nagel, on the left and Savannah Schluete, on the right were hit by another driver on May...
Caila Nagel, on the left and Savannah Schluete, on the right were hit by another driver on May 6, 2020.(WXIX)

Samantha Harvey, 51, was charged and later convicted on counts of aggravated vehicular assault and operating a vehicle under the influence with a marijuana specification.

“We didn’t know if she was going to wake up or not. We just had our friends and family praying for us,” said Tim Nagel, Caila’s father. “She was just non-responsive. Her eyes would be open, and there would be nothing there.”

Tim says Caila was in a coma at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital for nearly two months and that when she woke up, she spent more than 100 additional days in the hospital.

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Caila’s long road to recovery hasn’t stopped her from achieving her biggest goals, including graduating with her senior class at Edgewood High School.

“Even though I’ve wanted to, I don’t give up, because it won’t get me along. It won’t make me better if I just quit. So I never quit. Ever,” Caila said.

Challenges remain. She’s successfully made the transition from wheelchair to walker, but she still struggles with things like memory loss.

“It’s been a struggle, because like I want to do all of the things I did before,” she said.

Caila attends multiple different therapies including aqua therapy to help with her recovery.

“I haven’t been able to walk by myself obviously but I’m working on it,” she said.

Caila’s goal is to walk again soon so she can attend in-person classes at a collegiate school. She said she wants to be a nurse or a speech pathologist so she can help other people.

“She never gives up,” said Caila’s mother, Shelly Nagel. “She always has a smile on her face. She’s just an inspiration.”

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