The loss of Kim Makarowsky-Volgamore

Target Zero hopes to eliminate crashes and deaths due to DUI

It’s been almost five years since Megan lost a mom, Jodalee lost a sister, and Susan lost a cousin. They each fought back tears at times, missing their loved one — Kim Makarowsky-Volgamore. Yet, they hope sharing their story will cause others to avoid driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Megan Makarowsky had graduated from high school three months earlier. She’d just gotten off work, having been informed by her boss she was getting a promotion and a raise. She couldn’t wait to share that exciting news with her mom, her dad, and her aunt.

Jodalee Wakeman had picked up her sister, Kim, from work, and was driving home. They exited I-5 at Fourth Plain and were heading east by the VA hospital when it happened. BAM!

Kim Makarowsky-Volgamore was a loving mom, sister, and cousin. She had a love of horses and was always full of energy. Photos courtesy Susan Chun
Kim Makarowsky-Volgamore was a loving mom, sister, and cousin. She had a love of horses and was always full of energy. Photos courtesy Susan Chun

“My memory is driving home and being hit,” she said. “I was knocked unconscious. I woke up, seeing my sister’s head in my lap. There was a lot of blood; a lot of people screaming.” Jodalee was pinned in the car. 

“I knew she was not going to make it,” she said. “Blood was coming out her nose, her mouth, her ears.” An unknown woman came and held Jodalee’s hand. EMS had to cut them out of the mangled car, before taking them to the hospital.

Kim was sent to surgery. Jodalee was put in a separate room in the ICU. Both were dealing with severe trauma from the accident.

Kim had a traumatic brain injury and was in a coma. Her neck was broken and her brain was damaged. She had multiple broken bones. Around midnight she was on life support following brain surgery. Jodalee never saw her sister again.

Megan got a phone call from her dad. He told her she needed to immediately go to the hospital. 

As she waited in the emergency room, a Chaplain came out and took her to see Jodalee. “She was pretty banged up,” Megan said. “It was really hard seeing her like that.” Jodalee shared with Megan how badly injured Kim was, and that she didn’t think she would make it.

Susan Chun got the call along with so many other family members and close friends. On the way to the hospital, she went by the scene of the crash and saw the mangled vehicles. 

“I drove by the scene and there was just mangled cars, and police and the Major Crimes van,” she said. “So I knew it was bad. I knew in that moment that drugs or alcohol were involved. I knew in that moment our lives were going to be shattered into pieces.”

The family offered prayers and support for Kim in the hospital following surgery. Photo courtesy Susan Chun
The family offered prayers and support for Kim in the hospital following surgery. Photo courtesy Susan Chun

The surgeon later came out of the operating room and shared Kim’s condition with the family. “It was apparent that the brain damage and the injuries to her body were very severe,” Megan said. “Recovery was not something we were going to see,” Susan shared.

A while later, 18-year-old Megan had to make the difficult decision to remove life support from her mother.

The staff put Kim in a special room and the family was invited in. 

“I don’t think any of us really knew what we were going to be seeing,” said Susan. “The sights and the smells of that room, I will never forget.”

“It was really hard,” Megan shared.  

“It was just very life changing,” she said. “Something I never thought I’d see. My mom with her head shaved and part of her skull missing, in a hospital bed with a tube through her mouth, and just it was horrible. It wasn’t her in that bed; it was a very lifeless body. There was no movement, nothing. So it was hard to see her like that.”

Susan remembers thinking, “I will always tell somebody, you do not want to be the reason that somebody is lying in a hospital bed with a bunch of tubes and a shaved head and contraptions on her legs. Everything in that moment was caused by somebody. You don’t want to be the reason to cause that.”

Kim Makarowsky-Volgamore died on Sep. 24, 2016. 

This sign marks the location of the accident and the memory of Kim Makarowsky-Volgamore. The choice of one person to drink and drive killed Kim and forever changed the lives of many others, Photo by John Ley
This sign marks the location of the crash and the memory of Kim Makarowsky-Volgamore. The choice of one person to drink and drive killed Kim and forever changed the lives of many others, Photo by John Ley

Jodalee spent six days in the hospital. She had a crushed ankle, broken hip, broken back, and brain bleed. She came home in a wheelchair, to a house she had shared with her sister, now gone. Later, she spent another 10 days in the hospital for follow up surgeries.

She hasn’t been able to drive — post traumatic stress from the accident. The memory of her sister’s head in her lap, bleeding, still haunts her.

The crash

In the weeks and months following the crash, the family was able to piece together what happened. Jodalee and Kim were hit by a car traveling at an estimated 80 mph. Impact was at the driver’s side front quarter panel — not quite a head-on collision. The driver was drunk.

In fact the 30-year old female driver was an alcoholic driving with a suspended license and no insurance. The driver’s blood-alcohol level was .30, nearly four times the legal limit. 

She had apparently picked up some alcohol at a store and then went to the bar of a nearby restaurant. She was supposedly celebrating the start of a new job the next day. Receipts later revealed she paid for several shots of alcohol at the bar before leaving. 

She lived; Kim died. 

On the day they were doing a brain scan of Kim to see if there was any activity, the drunk driver was being released on bail, according to Susan. One more very difficult moment the family had to endure.

Jodalee is forever traumatized, and can’t drive like she used to. “Every time I feel pain, I think of the accident,” she said. She’s still in therapy. She is now on social security disability.

Megan no longer has a mother to support and encourage her. She lost her best friend.

Susan has become a warrior who’s message is don’t drink and drive; don’t do drugs and drive. Don’t drive impared. Don’t drive distracted — no texting and driving.

The driver was sentenced to nine years in jail. She was a single mom. Her child is now living in another state with the father. 

Only at the very end at the sentencing hearing, did the woman apologize to Megan, to Jodalee, to Susan, and the rest of the family.

One life ended. Countless lives are forever changed.

All of this could have been prevented. “Don’t drive intoxicated” is now the message all three share.

Remembrance/Dedication for Kimberly Makarowsky-Volgamore

Region 6 Target Zero Task Force of Clark and Skamania counties invite area residents to gather on Tuesday (Sept. 21) to remember Kimberly Makarowsky-Volgamore. Target Zero officials remind members of the public that “DUI crashes are not accidents, driving impaired is a choice, together we can work to end these tragedies.’’ Washington Traffic Safety Commission, local community leadership, the Target Zero Task Force and law enforcement agencies across Washington state, are dedicated to teaming up to end fatal and serious injury crashes, such as the one that claimed the life of Makarowsky-Volgamore. On the anniversary of that fatal crash, local community leaders and the Region 6 Task Force are commemorating Kimberly’s loss of life with a dedication ceremony. Immediately following the ceremony, thanks to dedicated law enforcement officers and a grant by the Washington Traffic Safety Commission, the Task Force will head out on a highly visible DUI emphasis patrol, in Kim’s honor.
It’s the hope of the Task Force members that area residents will take the pledge, plan ahead and always intervene to save lives.
• Pledge to always drive sober
• Have a plan
• Step in to prevent someone else from driving impaired
• Take public transportation

Event date: Tue., Sept. 21, 2021
Time: 6 p.m., will conclude by 7 p.m.
Location: Vancouver Police Department, West Precinct – Community Room, 2800 NE Stapleton Rd., Vancouver, WA 98661
Dignitaries: Vancouver Police Chief James McElvain, Vancouver Mayor Anne McEnerny-Ogle, Washington Traffic Safety Commission Director Shelly Baldwin

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8 months ago


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