Plunge down embankment leaves woman in coma

Signal File Photo.

As Shannon Casey Parker sits by her mother’s hospital bed, her mom remains silent.

Instead, Shannon listens to her mom’s voice on voice mail.

“It’s the only way I can hear her voice,” said told The Signal Friday.

Her mother, Julie Rene Trotochau, remains in a coma at Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital 17 days after her car drove over a cliff near Templin Highway, plunging more than 100 feet down an embankment.

“She’s breathing on her own but she’s still in a coma,” Shannon said Friday.

“She is getting better slowly,” she said, referring to the improving condition of her mother’s body.

The prognosis, however, relating to the serious brain injury her mother suffered in the crash is not something doctors have found easy to assess.

“The damage to her brain is very extensive,” Shannon said. “Right now it’s a sit and wait game.”


Zen retreat

Just over two weeks ago, Julie Rene Trotochau, now 59, mother of two daughters, left her home in Desert Hot Springs and was on her way to a Zen retreat in Oregon, via the Grapevine.

On Aug. 10, about 6:30 a.m., she left Shannon a phone message informing her of the trip.

About 45 minutes later, as she followed traffic along the winding northbound lanes of Interstate 5 in her Burgundy-colored Dodge Ram truck, motorists in front of Julie Trotochau suddenly swerved to avoid something in the road.

Trotochau’s passenger tire, however, hit what was believed to have been a tire tread reported earlier that morning by the California Highway Patrol.

The truck left the roadway, went over the side and down an embankment.  Emergency response crews were immediately dispatched.

CHP officers shut down the northbound lanes of I-5, just north of Templin Highway, to allow a rescue helicopter to land and take the injured woman to the hospital.

“The call came in as a person trapped in a vehicle off the northbound lanes of I-5,” Vanessa Lozano, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County Fire Department told The Signal on Aug. 10.

“The person was found breathing and conscious but not trapped,” Lozano said.

Shortly after 7:40 a.m., rescue helicopter #16 was en route to the crash.

At 7:45 a.m., CHP officers shut down the northbound lanes, so that the chopper could land on the freeway.

At 8:04 a.m., the helicopter was on its way to the hospital, Lozano said.

CHP investigators said at the time that they were looking into reports the Dodge driver hit debris described as a tire or tire tread on the freeway.

A check of the CHP’s log of traffic updates posted Aug. 10 show a report logged at 7:17 a.m. reporting a tire tread in the Number 2 lane, next to the fast lane.

Once the chopper landed at the hospital, Trotochau was rushed into Henry Mayo where she’s remained.



Shannon, who left her home in North Carolina when she heard about the crash, has remained at her mother’s side ever since.

“Every day she gets a little bit better,” she said, noting once again that improvements are to the body and not necessarily the brain.

Tiny indicators, however, that healing might be happening inside her mother’s brain does not go unnoticed.

“Every now and then her mouth moves and there facial expressions,” Shannon said.

And although she is the first to point out that she’s not a doctor, something inside her tells Shannon that her mother’s brain injuries are healing.

“Maybe her body is in crash mode.  Maybe she’s in so much pain that her brain is saying ‘You’re not ready to wake up yet.’”

Regardless of how the healing process continues to unfold, Trotochau remains surrounded by loving relatives hoping for her recovery.

“We hope she sits up and opens her eyes,” Shannon said.

“She is the glue of this family.”



Describing her as a deeply spiritual, gentle and loving woman, her sister, Robin Sherrie Trotochau, said if anyone’s conscious mind could find a way out of a coma it would be the mind of Julie Rene Trotochau.

“She is a most sensitive, magical and spiritual woman; talented beyond belief,” Robin told The Signal Friday.

“She was on her way to a Zen Center Retreat,” she said. “Her retreat is now the pathway back to a state of reality as she travels in a coma state visiting places we do not know.

“We will continue to stand by her side and assist with her not only recovery but the journey she can share with others,” she said.


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