English Prof. Richard Bailey’s lunch break came to a tragic end on March 13 when a car ran a red light, crashed into his Volvo and sent it flying into the front yard of a house on Pauline Boulevard.
Bailey, who suffered bruised lungs, fractured ribs and a fractured pelvis, has been on a ventilator in intensive care at the University Hospital since the crash.
Bailey’s wife, Julia Huttar Bailey, said the other driver crashed into the driver’s side door of her husband’s car and totaled it. Richard Bailey had to be cut out of the wreckage by emergency personnel, she said. Bailey’s friend, who was sitting in the passenger seat of the car, escaped uninjured.
Julia Huttar Bailey said progress has been slow, but her husband is alert. Although he is unable to speak, he can mouth words, she said. A full recovery is expected after he goes through rehabilitation, and a release date has not been set.
Because of the severity of his injuries, his doctors have discouraged friends from visiting him in the hospital. As an alternative, the family has set up an online blog where friends can read updates by Bailey’s wife and son, Andrew, who flew in from England to be with his father.
Richard Bailey left the University last semester after teaching for more than 40 years. He will officially retire at the end of this year.
Julia Huttar Bailey, a self-described optimist, said there is a bright side to the timing of her husband’s accident.
“He’s not missing his classes at least,” she said. “But he’s got books to write and projects.”
Ernesto Medina, an Episcopal pastor and friend of Bailey’s who flew in from Los Angeles after the accident, described the hospital room.
“I swear, there must be over 200 cards here,” said Medina, who is the godfather of Bailey’s 8-year-old daughter, Oceana. “The nurse said she doesn’t even get that much at Christmas.”
Another friend, English Prof. Anne Curzan, said she has visited Bailey to keep him up to date on news from the department and to pass along messages from colleagues.
“We want to see him back in Angell Hall,” Curzan said.
Bailey mentored Curzan when she attended the University as a graduate student and continued to inspire her after she became a faculty member. She and Bailey are co-authoring a book on the history of English.
LSA sophomore Sara Walters said taking Prof. Bailey’s introduction to modern English class last fall introduced her to linguistics. It was a subject she knew nothing about beforehand, but she said she ended up enjoying it. Walters now plans to take linguistics classes in the future.
School of Education student Valerie Canter described the class she took with Bailey last fall as “awesome.”
“You look at him and you expect to get old school, but then what comes out is just sheer interest in the subject and the students,” she said. ” He’s very conversational. People developed a real respect for him in class.”