After Serious Car Accident, Saugus Runner Scobie Is on Her Way Back

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Less than 15 months ago, Heather Scobie, a junior at Saugus High School, was a talented runner of great promise.

As a freshman, she was one of the country’s best cross-country runners, placing 17th in a field of 1,500 in the Kinney Western Regional meet. In the spring, she placed eighth in the state track and field final in the 1,600 meters.

After an injury-plagued sophomore year, during which she placed third in the high school mile in the Sunkist Invitational indoor meet, Scobie was hoping for an outstanding junior campaign.


Then came the rainy afternoon of Halloween, 1987, when Scobie was involved in a head-on car accident on Sierra Highway.

Scobie suffered many injuries, including broken ribs, fractured vertebrae in her lower back and internal bleeding caused by severed abdominal muscles. Her friends, Melissa Zidle and Shauna Bird, suffered cuts and broken bones, and a passenger in the other car died.

Scobie underwent 3 1/2 hours of surgery on her stomach muscles. Doctors told her parents that she might never walk again, let alone resume her running career.

Her mother, Pat Scobie, said: “I just didn’t believe that things were as bad as they were. Heather couldn’t move until she had surgery because of the danger of severing nerves in her back. I stayed with her in the hospital for 2 weeks. We never gave up hope.”

Doctors had to wait 8 days after the stomach surgery to operate on Scobie’s back. After the 4-hour operation, in which two 8-inch rods were inserted in her back, Scobie spent 3 months in a body cast.

Despite the seriousness of her injuries, Scobie did not have any doubts about returning to the athletics.


“I did not want to think anything negative,” said Scobie, who started to jog 6 months after the accident. “My parents were always positive when I saw them, and that helped a lot.”

Scobie, now 17, has made incredible strides since her setback. She ran in several cross-country meets this past fall, including the Kinney Western Regional. She again will run n the Sunkist Invitational, Jan. 20 in the Sports Arena.

Scobie is not at the same level she was before her accident--Saugus Coach Mike Parker says she is about 80%--but her competitive desire remains strong.

“My training now just consists of short jogs because of the pain (in her stomach and back),” said Scobie. “But I will give it my best shot at the Sunkist meet.”

Scobie, who will have additional surgery this summer on her stomach and will have the rods removed from her back, added: “I am just glad that I am still able to run.”

Reseda Cleveland (7-2) won the Las Vegas Holiday Tournament at Nevada Las Vegas by defeating Fairdale (Ky.), 74-62, in the final. Cleveland’s Lucius Harris, who scored 21 points in the final, was named the tournament’s most valuable player.


Rolling Hills (9-3) reached the quarterfinals before losing to Cleveland, 85-67. John Hardy, a 6-foot 4-inch senior forward, averaged 32.8 points in the tournament, second highest in its 12-year history. He also led the tournament with a 12.8 rebounding average.

Inglewood (5-4), behind the play of USC-bound Harold Miner, also played well in the tournament, winning 3 of 5 games. The 6-5 Miner, who did not play in Inglewood’s last game because of an ankle injury, averaged 29.8 points and 12 rebounds per game.

Westchester (6-3), which traveled to Pine Bluff, Ark., to play in the King Cotton tournament, shot only 32% in a semifinal loss to Flint Hill Prep of Oakton, Va., and 35% in a loss to Westwood of Memphis in the third-place final.

Prep Notes

The City boys’ soccer preseason coaches’ poll: 1. Reseda; 2. San Pedro; 3. Monroe; 4. Birmingham; 5. Wilson; 6. Fremont; 7. North Hollywood; 8. Cleveland; 9. Bell; 10. Banning.