An Aiken County local is starting an organization aimed at building a support group for those who have survived or lost loved ones in car collisions.
Tashanti Smith, founder of the organization "I Survived," said the organization plans to help with different traumas those impacted by car collisions may face such as depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder and phobias.
According to preliminary reports by the South Carolina Department of Public Safety, South Carolina had 917 fatal collisions in 2018 with 25 of those being in Aiken County. Additionally, there were 38,109 injury collisions statewide in 2018 with 1,014 of those being in Aiken County.
Smith is a survivor of a head-on car collision in October 2016. Although she does not recall the accident, she remembers the mental and physical stress of her injuries which included breaking both of her ankles, her right arm and her femur.
Smith said she felt that she would never feel like her “old self” after the crash. Although she made a miraculous recovery, her injuries still linger with her in the form of a limp each time she walks.
Three years later, she lost her cousin to a car collision in May 2019. Although she mourned his loss, Smith said it inspired her to create “I Survived” to help others just like here through dialogue and community.
“I hate for people to feel like there’s no one around that can help,” Smith said. “I’m here to help.”
Although “I Survived” has not held its first official meeting, Smith said she is hoping to use the same format as Alcoholics Anonymous meetings where members meet twice a week to discuss different issues they are facing.
Smith hopes to include first responders, local mentors and therapists to assist in future meetings.
“You have times where one day you’re okay and then the next day you’re feeling down,” Smith said. “You don’t have to put your life on hold because you feel like you’re alone. You’re not.”
Although a first meeting date has not been scheduled, Smith asks those who may be interested in joining “I Survived” to reach out to her via email at email@example.com or by phone at 803-357-4936. More information can also be found on the “I Survived” Facebook page.