AMESBURY — Paige Fortin can consider herself lucky to be alive, friends say.
They say it’s a miracle the 18-year-old from Amesbury survived after the scooter she was riding on with her boyfriend last Saturday in Haverhill was struck by a truck.
But the recent graduate of Whittier Regional Vocational Technical High School in Haverhill faces a long road ahead.
The teen, who was flown to Brigham & Women’s Hospital in Boston for emergency treatment following the accident, underwent surgery Tuesday to amputate one of her legs below the knee. That surgery followed one the previous day during which doctors had removed her foot. Doctors are expecting to perform up to seven additional surgeries in the next two to three weeks.
Since the horrific accident, Fortin’s family has been flooded with support from across the community. A Facebook page, Let’s Help Paige Fortin (facebook.com/LetsHelpPaige), was quickly created. As of yesterday, the page had generated more than 2,000 likes from people.
The Paige Fortin Recovery Fund to assist her family with recovery expenses was arranged through The Provident Bank in Amesbury and several local merchants, including the Custard Shoppe, Culinarium and The Picket Fence, have agreed to donate 10 percent of all sales through the month of September to the fund.
“She’s just a great girl,” Joanne Bagshaw, owner of the Custard Shoppe children’s boutique, said yesterday.
Bagshaw said she became close friends with Fortin’s mother, Virginia Page, a local photographer, after the two did business together. Through that friendship, she got to know Fortin.
“Their strength with what they’re going through, I feel they are going to get through anything,” Bagshaw said, adding the positive way Fortin is handling the accident should be seen as an inspiration to other girls.
Other fundraisers include an online donation page on gofundme.com. In just the first 24 hours after the account was established, $3,200 had been raised, according to family friend and neighbor Donna Eldredge, who set up the account plus the Facebook page.
Perhaps the biggest fundraiser is expected to take place Monday, Oct. 1, from 5 to 9 p.m. at The Flatbread Co in downtown Amesbury, where Fortin worked. Employees have agreed to donate their tips and wages to Fortin. And for every pizza sold during the four-hour event, $3.50 will go to the fund. Local band The Brew has also agreed to perform a free acoustic show during the fundraiser, Eldredge said.
“We have a great community and it usually does rally around people so it really doesn’t surprise me,” said Eldredge, who helps organize the city’s annual Relay For Life cancer walk.
Bagshaw and others are also organizing a meals program where people can sign up and deliver free lunches and dinners to the family for as long as necessary.
Like Eldredge, Bagshaw praised the community for rallying together so completely and so quickly.
“We all got together and we’re still organizing,” Bagshaw said.
Visitors to the Let’s Help Paige Fortin page and others on Facebook are sure to be struck by the number of cheerful and uplifting photos of the teen, including one with her mother in which they are wearing Wonder Woman T-shirts and another with her boyfriend, Josh Zaino of Haverhill, whom she met at Whittier Vo-Tech. Zaino escaped serious injury.
“The smiles you see online are amazing,” Jenn Freeman, owner of Picket Fence, a home decor and gift store, said yesterday.
Freeman, whose kids have been photographed by Fortin’s mother, said she expects even more community involvement in the days to come.
“What’s needed is the support she’s getting online,” Freeman said.