In wedding portraits on the walls of
their Las Vegas, New Mexico, living room, Kim and
Krickitt Carpenter look like any young newlyweds deeply
in love and filled with hope for their new life together.
But Krickitt admits it causes her some pain now to
look at the pictures or to see herself in the wedding
video, walking down the aisle in her lacy white gown.
In a sense, that Krickitt is gone; lost forever. Less than ten
weeks after the September 1993 ceremony, the Carpenters were in
a nightmarish auto accident that injured both of them badly and
left Krickitt comatose. Even though the doctors initially doubted
she would survive, she rallied, regaining consciousness and eventually,
most of her physical abilities. However, the trauma to her brain
caused retrograde amnesia, erasing virtually her entire memory
of the previous eighteen months including any recollection of
the man she had fallen in love with and married.
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Krickitt Pappas was a sales representative for an
Anaheim, California, sportswear company when Kim,
then baseball coach and assistant athletic director
at New Mexico Highlands University in Las Vegas, phoned
in September 1992 to order some team jackets. While
chatting, they discovered mutual interests. Both were
devout Christians and Krickitt's father had also coached
The following April, he invited her to visit New Mexico for a
They seemed a good fit. Kim, who had played college baseball and golf at Highlands, was one of three sons of Danny Carpenter, a retired printing firm owner, and his wife Maureen. Krickitt (born Kristian and nicknamed as a baby by an aunt) was a two-time Academic Ail-American gymnast at California State, Fullerton. She grew up in Phoenix, the daughter of Gus and Mary Pappas, former schoolteachers and coaches who also have a son, Jamey. Krickitt and Kim married that fall and moved into an apartment in Las Vegas (128 miles northeast of Albuquerque), where Krickitt found work as a hospital fitness instructor.
They were just settling into married life when they set out on November 24th to visit her parents in Phoenix. Krickitt was driving west on Interstate 40 with Kim lying in the backseat and a friend in the passenger seat. She had to swerve to avoid hitting a slow-moving truck. A pickup following them smashed into the Carpenters' car. Their Ford Escort flipped over on its roof and went into a sickening skid.
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"I can remember every split second of that wreck,"
Unconscious and fastened by a seat belt, she hung
upside down for thirty minutes before rescuers arrived.
It was a further forty more minutes before they could
"It was pretty bleak initially," says emergency-room
doctor Alan Beamsley, who was at the Gallup, New Mexico,
hospital where Krickitt arrived nearly ninety minutes
after the accident.
Despite doctors' advice, he refused treatment for
himself to stay by his wife's side.
When a helicopter arrived to take Krickitt to the University of New Mexico hospital in Albuquerque 140 miles away, there was no room for Kim.
Married to a Stranger Part 1 | 2
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