Things aren’t always as they seem, a truism Nichole Nalley-Dickey wants to make clear.

Nichole is the sister-in-law of Rebecca Mceachern-Gorman, the woman who crashed her car into a pole on Main Street in Waterville last week, flipping it on its roof and requiring the pole to be replaced.

Rebecca, 29, was arrested and charged with operating under the influence of drugs, operating while license suspended and violation of conditions of release, police said at the time.

There has been a lot of chatter on social media about the crash, with people making harsh comments about Rebecca, according to Nichole, who called the Morning Sentinel to say there is more to the story than meets the eye.

Two days before the crash, Rebecca suffered brain damage when she collapsed at the Waterville restaurant where she works full time as a waitress, Nichole said.

Rebecca, who has been in recovery for more than a year from drug addiction, takes methadone to help keep her off drugs and had methadone in her system at the time of the wreck, she said.

Advertisement

After she fell unconscious at the restaurant, she was rushed to a hospital where she ultimately was revived, found to be dehydrated and later sent home, according to Nichole, who is 25. But she suffered brain damage because she had no oxygen to the brain for more than 10 minutes, she said.

“They said at the hospital that she was suffering a brain injury due to hypoxia — she was too long without oxygen after she fell,” Nichole said.

According to the National Institutes of Health, most people who recover from hypoxia were unconscious only briefly. The longer a person is unconscious, the higher the chance of death and the lower the chances of meaningful recovery.

Rebecca lives with her husband, Nicholas Dickey, Nichole’s brother, and their parents in Winslow, and the family has been supporting her in her recovery, Nichole said. Rebecca’s medical condition leaves her struggling to speak and barely able to walk. When she came home from the hospital, Nicholas had to carry her to the bathroom and spoon feed her, she said.

“She’s really delirious and foggy,” Nichole said Tuesday. “If you were to have a conversation with her, she talks really slow. She takes a couple of minutes to answer. Her words are very drawn out.”

It was two days after she collapsed at work that Rebecca took her car keys, left the house while family members were sleeping, and got into her car, according to Nichole. The family couldn’t imagine at the time that she was even able to walk to the car, let alone drive it, she said.

Advertisement

“She couldn’t even walk to the bathroom,” Nichole said. “She drove for miles and miles. She still doesn’t know what happened. She’s so far out of it that she doesn’t even know she hasn’t got a car right now.”

Rebecca’s 2008 Honda Civic was destroyed in the crash. Videos on social media show the car in Winslow before the Waterville crash, being driven erratically and lurching over a curb. Nichole confirmed that it was Rebecca driving there also.

Contacted this week, acting Waterville police Chief Bill Bonney said he had not heard about Rebecca’s hypoxia prior to the crash and he understood the charges against her still stand.

Meanwhile, Nichole has paperwork from the hospital confirming Rebecca’s medical condition. Nichole said she responded to several commenters on social media who made harsh comments about her sister-in-law — comments that are hurtful to the family and others aware of the situation.

“It bothers me,” she said. “I have been trying to answer everyone online — don’t speak on something you do not know. There’s just so much more to it. It was a medical issue.”

Amy Calder has been a Morning Sentinel reporter 34 years. Her columns appear here weekly. She is the author of the book “Comfort is an Old Barn,” a collection of her curated columns, published in 2023 by Islandport Press. She may be reached at [email protected]. For previous Reporting Aside columns, go to centralmaine.com.