A True Love Story

After a terrible accident, Shawna Turner learned what love really means.

By Larri Jo Starkey

In 2010, two rodeo athletes loaded up their horses and their dreams in Wyoming, embarking on a new adventure and new home in Texas.

Tyrel Turner wanted to hone his steer-wrestling skills; his wife, Shawna, wanted to attend the demanding Parker University in Dallas, with a plan of becoming a human and equine chiropractor.

They were passionately in love with each other and with their lives and dreams. Their chosen paths were difficult, but they were young, fit and accustomed to hard work.

They were sure their love would only deepen with time.

Love is a Commitment

On September 12, 2011, Shawna packed up her schoolbooks and a gym bag before kissing her sleeping husband goodbye. “I love you,” she whispered without waking him. Shawna expected all day to hear from Tyrel—they communicated constantly—but that call never came.

When Shawna’s phone rang that evening, it wasn’t Tyrel—it was a friend delivering devastating news that Tyrel had been in an accident. Shawna drove 95 miles an hour toward the accident scene, praying with every turn of the tires.

“I literally had no idea where he was,” she later wrote. “I just knew I was driving like a woman who was determined to get to her husband.”

She saw lights ahead of her on the highway before spotting Tyrel’s red pickup wrecked against a telephone pole. The driver’s side was bashed in, and her stomach slunk out of her body.

At the hospital, the beeping machines were proof that Tyrel’s injuries were bad—really bad. He had swelling in the brain along with bleeds. He made it through the first 48 hours, then the next 48, and finally his survival became more clear.

Tyrel’s physical recovery took months and is still ongoing. His mind had even more difficulty. He had been changed.

A traumatic brain injury is just that—a severe injury to the brain. According to the Mayo Clinic, a TBI can cause memory problems, wild mood swings, depression, anxiety, agitation and disorientation. Tyrel had all those challenges.

He went through three rehabilitation facilities before finally going home to be with Shawna. To say was hard is an understatement. At the time, Shawna was in the clinical portion of chiropractic school, seeing patients, and Tyrel still needed constant care.

“Life was about to get hectic in a way I had not yet experienced,” Shawna wrote. “Failure was not an option. The best I could do was ask God for strength and guidance as we embarked on a journey full of more unknowns.”

They persevered through the challenges with love, but even love couldn’t overcome the brain injury. Tyrel felt like he was a burden, Shawna says, and he was battling confusion, anger and depression. That anger turned both inward, toward himself, and outward, toward Shawna. It wasn’t a healthy situation for either of them.

Eventually, for his own good, Tyrel went to live with his parents where he could continue his recovery. The decision was painful, but Shawna gritted her teeth and completed her studies before starting her business, Supple Steeds.

So where’s the love story in this separation? It’s in the commitment.


This is an excerpt from the full article—get the whole story in the Winter 2023 Chrome magazine, which is sent to all current APHA members. Not a member? Join or renew at apha.com/join.