Let’s first telescope back to the days right before the February 13, 2014 accident that changed everything. At that time, South Carolina native Liza Dye (pictured) was just like so many others in New York City, doggedly pursuing her dreams.
“Despite being homeless, my career was going really well,” she tells FishbowlNY from Greenville, where she continues to recuperate. “I’d just come off a Saturday Night Live audition which landed me an amazing manager. I experienced my first pilot season and then I got hit by a train.”
“But one thing that I made sure of was to never stop writing,” she continues. “I kept a notebook in my [Bellevue] hospital bed and wrote every day. Some stuff was jokes and some wasn’t. I just made sure that I was writing. And I’m still writing. Now, I’m writing a pilot for a TV show about my life and I’m also writing a book. I should note that no money has come from either of those things [yet].”
After fainting off of a New York subway platform and being hit by an arriving train, Dye racked up huge medical expenses. At the time of the accident, she did not have health insurance.
Dye’s comedian friends rallied around her last winter, putting together some benefits and other efforts that raised around $75,000. But nine surgeries on her mangled left leg at Bellevue Hospital – yes, nine – put the total at $405,000. Compounding matters is that Dye is so far being denied disability in South Carolina.
“I have been denied disability benefits twice,” the 25-year-old reveals. “One person told me that I was “too young” and another person told me to “wait another year.” Wait another year? “When I’m 26?” I said.”
“What is the difference between 25 and 26?” Dye asks. “There are so many people that receive disability benefits that don’t even need them and here I am with a mangled leg and have been denied benefits twice.”
The initial press coverage of Dye’s accident was about as competent. Despite the fact that she in fact fainted, sensational reports of an individual falling off a subway platform due to being distracted by texting were spread.
“A reporter for New York magazine asked me the same question you are, basically,” explains Dye. “To the effect of, did I think the media was trying to put me into a sort of generational box? i.e., “Another youth dies because of texting!””
“And I think that is completely what the case was,” she says. “I think had I been over the age of 35 or 40, texting wouldn’t even have been an issue regarding my accident. They probably would have stereotyped it as some other problem that older people deal with like “old lady has a hot flash and faints into train tracks” or something. I definitely learned a lot about the media first hand and how it works.”
“I still have no idea how the texting rumor got started. I think you are right about it being a classic example of today’s Web reporting “Swiss cheese” and how websites and blogs literally just copy and paste information. People don’t even click on the article and read it anymore, they just read the headline and form their own opinion based on that.”
Dye has been back in South Carolina since May, living with her mother. Those residual medical expenses are very much her main struggle right now, along with no longer being able to stand for long periods of time and being in constant pain.
For those interested in donating to her cause, Dye’s Paypal account is firstname.lastname@example.org.
[Photo credit: Cyle Suesz]
Previously on FishbowlNY:
Comedienne Injured in NYC Subway Accident on the Mend