QUINCY -- The morning of Nov. 4 was foggy when Miayla Robbins pulled her Jeep Liberty onto Cannonball Road headed for Quincy High School.
She never made it.
Jada Humphrey, a junior guard for the Quincy High School basketball team and one of Miayla's closest friends, arrived to school later than usual that day. The teammates typically park their vehicles next to each other in the QHS parking lot so they can walk into school together.
When Humphrey arrived that morning, she noticed Robbins and her sister, Matyia, hadn't arrived. She thought Miayla might have been doing something that involved her knees. Miayla tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee during her freshman season, and she tore the ACL in her opposite knee as a sophomore.
"She was coming off her knee injury, and she talked about therapy a couple days before that," Humphrey said. "So I thought she was at the doctor getting released or something. I just texted her asking everything was OK, but I never got a response.
"I started to worry."
She didn't want to be late for class, so Humphrey walked into the building. She finally received a text message later in the day about Miayla's whereabouts, but it didn't come from her.
Tanita Robbins, Miayla and Matyia's mother, was getting ready for work as her daughters left for school. As a clinic office supervisor at Blessing Hospital, she gets phone calls every morning on her cellphone before she even arrives at work.
When her phone repeatedly rang that morning, her 7-year-old son Mekhi brought the phone to her.
"He was like, 'Mom, this unknown number keeps calling,'" Tanita said. "'You need to answer it.'"
It was Matyia, calling to tell her mother she and her sister were in a car crash. Matyia didn't say how serious it was.
"I thought it was just a fender bender," Tanita said. "I thought they were just being teenagers and were scared."
It took her eight minutes to drive from their house to the crash site just north of the Ambiance on Koch's Lane, and when she arrived, she knew immediately the situation was serious. She saw emergency service vehicles but not the vehicle her daughter was driving.
"They had the road barricaded off," Tanita said. "When I pulled up, I looked over to my side and saw the car at the bottom of the hill on its top."
Miayla was driving her vehicle south on Cannonball Road when she came around a curve. The back end of the vehicle began to fishtail, and Miayla tried to correct the vehicle from spinning. Instead, she overcorrected and the vehicle went into the north-bound lane, then off the road and through a fence. The vehicle then hit a telephone pole and split it, then rolled down a hill before finally coming to a rest upside down.
The sisters were wearing their seatbelts. Miayla said she was in and out of consciousness.
"I remember six flips," she said. "But I know it was more than that."
Miayla eventually realized her sister wasn't in the vehicle and feared for the worst.
"I thought she had been thrown from the car," she said. "I was like, 'Oh my God, where's my sister?'"
Matyia had unfastened her seatbelt to get out of the car, made her way back to the road and waved down a passerby for help. She used someone else's cellphone to call her mother. A few minutes later, an ambulance, fire trucks and an Adams County Sheriff's deputy arrived. Tanita arrived shortly afterward.
Miayla was awake and talked to emergency workers and her mother as the Jaws of Life was used to extract her from the vehicle.
"She was actually trying to calm me down," Tanita said. "She told me she was going to be all right."
Miayla was taken on a stretcher to an ambulance. She fractured the T2, T3 and T4 vertebrae in her upper back, suffered a punctured lung and had scrapes, the worst on her left forearm. Her sister suffered a broken clavicle that required surgery.
Miayla was already thinking about basketball when she was in the ambulance. On the way to Blessing Hospital, she called Blue Devils coach Brad Bergman. He rushed to her side.
"When a kid calls you, and she calls me from the ambulance, you look at kids as your own kids," said Bergman, who's in his second season with the Blue Devils. "When something like that happens, whether you've won 20 games or no games, that puts a lot of things in reality. Everything else doesn't exist."
Bergman sent a group text to the basketball team that afternoon. Humphrey saw the text while she was at lunch. She left school to go to the hospital.
"I didn't eat lunch that day," Humphrey said. "I hurried up and rushed over to the hospital. She told me she'd be back, but it was hard seeing her like that."
Miayla spent the night in the hospital and was released the following day. She wore a back brace to keep her spine from moving, which limited her mobility.
She said the day after the crash was the toughest.
"It was hard to breathe, and I couldn't move," Miayla said. "I didn't sleep a lot that night. You just feel like you can't breathe even when you're on oxygen."
She also was worried that she wouldn't step on the basketball court again. She was about to be cleared from her second ACL injury and resume playing when the crash happened. Now, her basketball career was on hold for a third, and possibly last, time.
"I was going to cry every night," Miayla said. "I had to play basketball again."
Unlike the ACL injuries, Miayla went through no rehabilitation process for her broken bones and punctured lung. All she could do was wait and heal. Her teammates tried making the process as easy as possible.
"When she started walking without her brace on, it made me nervous," Humphrey said. "I asked if she wanted me to carry her bag, but she was just toughing it out."
Miayla was cleared to return to basketball on Dec. 27 -- less than two months after the crash.
"My heart was pounding every time I touched the floor," she said. "I thought I was going to mess up. I wasn't worried about the wreck. I was worried about playing."
Miayla knows the severity of her crash and how others like it often have a tragic result.
She says she's lucky she and her sister can walk after the accident. Returning to the basketball court and starting for the Blue Devils, who begin postseason play in Class 4A Monday night, is an added bonus.
"We should have died in that car accident," Miayla said. "We had police, doctors telling us we should have died."
Miayla isn't completely healed. She admits her back still aches on occasion, but it never causes enough pain to keep her from playing. Her love for the game and wanting to play for her teammates overrides that.
Her presence on the court and around the team is welcomed.
"She's an athlete who can make shots, but she just has to learn how to play within herself," Bergman said. "We didn't think she was going to play basketball this year. I don't know if she's a spark, but she's a blessing.
"You take that kid who can help you, and she can help us. She's only going to get better."
Miayla and her family must drive past the site nearly every day. Tanita often must hear about car crashes when she's at work, and she believes something kept her daughters alive.
"Just all of the aspects of that crash ... " she said. "It was a miracle."