West Ottawa Honor Student Starting Over After Brain Injury

Posted at 5:35 PM, Mar 29, 2013
and last updated 2013-04-19 11:35:27-04

OTTAWA COUNTY, Mich.–Brianne Payne was busy finishing up her senior year at West Ottawa High School and had a fun summer planned with friends at the beach.  The honor student was accepted to Eastern Michigan University with plans to study criminal justice, but she was also focused on her jazz music.

But all that has been put on hold.

On February 12th, the 18-year-old student was headed home from work, not far from her home in Holland Township,  when another driver slammed into the side of her vehicle near Riley Street and 136th Avenue.

Her silver Cavalier,  a sweet sixteen present, decorated with girly zebra seat covers, was completely crunched in on the side. Payne suffered critical injuries,  including a major break to the pelvis and a traumatic brain injury.

“I wanted to switch places with her, to see your child like that, you can’t even put it into words,” said Tim Payne, Brianne’s  father.

He said Bri, his youngest child, spent 17 days in intensive care and was in a coma up until two weeks ago. She has only recently opened her eyes and has been moved to a rehab facility, but she still can’t talk or walk.

“She’s like an infant now, the worst part of it is when you have an infant they don’t know,  so you teach them everything.  She knew how to do things and she’s starting over,” said Payne.

In recent weeks, the teenager  has made progress at therapy, according to her dad.  She is now able to track the motion of others and she stood up for the first time this week, with the help and support.

The young woman is faced with having to relearn everything and her parents have been by her side the whole way, but it has been a heartbreaking journey.

“We hope for the same girl, we hope for the same drive personality,  but we don’t know. We treat her just like we treated her on February 11th, we move forward,” he said.

“Pray for tomorrow and that tomorrow brings better things.”

With a constant cycle of rehabilitation appointments, hospital visits and work, it hasn’t been easy.  However, Bri’s parents have had support along the way.

Family friends have sent them meals. Bagger Daves restaurant in Holland, Bri’s after-school job, held a fundraiser in March.

Her hospital CarePage has been flooded with well wishes and support.

“We have been so blessed,” said Tim Payne.

Family friends continue to organize fundraisers to help offset medical costs.

April 13th. A crafting event is being held at Worden Mfg. Co, located at 200 E 17th Street in Holland.  It will be from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. The cost is $20 and includes meals and scrapbooking. To reserve a spot or make a donation, you can contact Shannon VanderYacht at

April 19th and 20th: Bob Evans in Holland will hold a two-day event, with a portion of  the food bills goings to the Payne family.  It will run from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. both days.