Young Waco mother loses leg after trail ride party

Published: Jul. 20, 2022 at 10:07 PM CDT
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WACO, Texas (KWTX) - A young mom in Waco will be disabled for the rest of her life following a trail ride party over the weekend which ended in tragedy.

Helena Evans, 20, says she was ran over and dragged for miles during a trail ride event in Centerville Saturday, causing her leg to have to be amputated.

As Evans recovers in the hospital, her family is now speaking out against these trail riding events.

“My sister shouldn’t come to a trail ride with two legs and leave with one,” said DaJohn Edwards Johnson, Evans’ brother. “I just hope that my sister’s incident, and all other things that have taken place before, start to open some of these peoples’ eyes so they can see that we need to do better, and if you can’t do better than it needs to be stopped.”

Evans, a single mother raising a two-year-old daughter, is a Waco High School graduate who now works at Quality Care of Waco.

“She’s a very outgoing, very friendly, high-spirited young woman, I love her to death,” said Johnson.

While Evans works at a nursing home and hopes to become a nurse someday...right now she’s the one who needs medical care.

During Saturday’s heavily promoted trail ride which drew groups from all around Texas, Johnson says his sister was riding on the trailer of her own trail riding group out of Waco, Up One Riderz, when something that should have been a minor accident turned into a life-altering disaster.

“She was on the trailer, she tried to sit down...her foot got caught and she ended up being drug for a while,” said Johnson. " Everybody that was on the trailer tried to tell whoever was driving to stop, but I don’t know if he wasn’t paying attention or he didn’t hear anything or just a certain level of negligence.”

Evans was flown to Baylor Scott & White Medical Center in Temple where doctors had to amputate her leg to keep her alive.

“She’s aware that her leg is gone, whenever she was heavily sedated she keep reaching for her leg and wiggling her toes, but she couldn’t feel her right toes,” said Johnson.

Since then she’s gone through multiple surgeries.

“She’s a tough cookie, but she’s doing pretty good,” said Johnson.

Despite the loss of her leg, Evan’s biggest concern has been her daughter Akyli, who she got to see for the first time since the accident on Wednesday.

“She feels a certain level of pain that she might not be able to do as much as she could do with her daughter, but we’re trying to convince her that ‘hey no, just because you had this incident that happened, it doesn’t mean that this stops you from being you,’” said Johnson. “Disability doesn’t mean inability.”

As Evans recovers, her family is wasting no time fighting for change.

“These trail rides have changed over the years, they’re not what they used to be,” said Johnson. “It’s gotten so much worse since COVID, people come out to the country to escape and party, but in the country there’s a lot that you can get away with, which brings a lot more chaos.”

Evans’ family says the trail rides are big money-makers which fuel underage drinking and come with a lack of security and medical care--if any.

Johnson says there needs to be more rules, order and accountability.

“It shouldn’t take my sisters leg to be cutoff or somebody getting shot and dying, or somebody getting in a car wreck and dying, for people to realize how dangerous these trail rides can be,” said Johnson.

In Oct. 2021, Scotty Stephens, 25, was runover and shot at a trail ride in Waco.

Johnson says his death underlines the need for regulation.

‘As unfortunate as this is, I hope it sheds light and brings awareness to some of the dangers that some of these trail rides to tend to have,” said Johnson. “To those who are promoting and organizing these events: please look out for your patrons a lot better, it’s not just about how many people you can get into one place or how much money you can make in one night...people should be having a ‘good time’ and that means the same way they came is the same way they should leave.”

He says the attendees also need to step-up their responsibility.

“In regards to those patrons that go to these trial rides--not only pay attention to your own surroundings, but look out for the people who are around you, if you see that somebody is doing something that they might not have any business doing, try to stop them, if you see someone about to get hurt, try to help them out, if you see there might be too many people on a trailer, limit that to prevent disasters like this from happening, and don’t drink and drive,” said Johnson. “Just be careful, please be careful, I know you want to have fun but not at the risk of your safety and others.”

Discussions are already underway to get Evans a prosthetic leg.

Since it was her right leg that was lost, she won’t ever be able to drive a normal vehicle again.

Evans is one of four children--her siblings and mother have vowed to pull her and Akyli through this.

They’ve started a GoFundMe page to raise money for her unique medical expenses which can be found here.

“Whether it be a prayer, whether it be financial support. words of encouragement...whatever you can do will be greatly appreciated because she needs all the support she can get,” said Johnson.

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