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Ella Merrill's miracle recovery: Teen, family recount journey since accident

EDWARDSBURG, Mich -- The recovery of 16-year-old Ella Merrill has been nothing short of a miracle.

Ella was badly hurt when her car was hit by a school bus in Edwardsburg on December 13, 2017.

The crash left her with life altering injuries, some of which, doctors thought she would never recover.

For the first time, Ella and her mother, Heather Zile, are speaking about the accident.

"We got a phone call that there had been an accident with one of our children. It was the worst phone call you could ever receive," said Zile.

Ella doesn’t remember the crash or even the days leading up to it.

"I was going to work but that’s what I was told. That’s the only reason I know that," said Ella.

After the accident, she was taken to Beacon's Children Hospital in South Bend.

“It was really heartbreaking to hear that she had received the worst brain injury one could sustain and they couldn’t really predict if or when she would wake up," said Zile.

After 15 days in South Bend, Ella was transferred to Grand Rapids still in a coma.

Doctors there told Zile and her husband that it was time to start thinking of alternate, long term care.

"They sent us back to rehab at Mary Freebed with the idea that she would most likely remain in a vegetative state and they were going to prepare us to properly care for her,” said Zile.

But then a miracle.

Ella slowly came back to life.

“First thing I asked was, 'Where’s my dog?” She said.

Two months ago no one knew if this 16-year old would ever wake up.

“It’s just been a miracle. She has beat every odds. The medical staff has openly stated they have no explanation,” said Zile.

Now she takes huge steps towards a limitless future, which starts at a rehab facility in South Bend where she visits twice a week.

“I’m happy this happened. It’s a good experience and it just brings me closer to god. At least I woke up. I’m happy my family is happy,” Said Ella.

Ella is planning to return to high school in the fall as a senior.

She also plans on becoming a nurse, having already enrolled in classes at Southwestern Michigan College.

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