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Back at work after disaster

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By Cindy Simpson

Seven weeks out of knee surgery, and Amy Riddle is back standing at a salon chair.

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One of 10 injured when a van crashed into Kingston’s Classic Styles Salon three months ago, Riddle has opened her own shop, Cuts and Beyond.

“Nobody has went back to work but me, that was injured,” Riddle said. “I have to give God all the credit, because without Him I wouldn’t be here and without him I wouldn’t have this shop.

Above both doors at her new business on Hwy. 70 East, Riddle has posted the Scripture, “With God All Things Are Possible.”

Her first day open was Nov. 18 and she worked into the evening.

“I’m a full-service salon,” Riddle said. That includes coloring, hair cuts, nails, spa pedicures and more.

“I’ll be open Tuesday through Saturday,” she added. Her day starts at 9 a.m.

“Tonight, I’ll be here until about 7 p.m.” she added.

Riddle’s brother, Ashley Clark, was one of her many clients on her first day back at work.

“I’ve already done two full weaves, a color and probably about four — no, five haircuts. No, six — he makes the seventh one,” Riddle said.

Six medical helicopters were called to Kingston on Aug. 24, when a medically impaired driver rammed through Classic Styles Salon, where Riddle worked. Employees and customers suffered various degrees of injuries and are still recovering.

Riddle said she’s grateful for the community’s response in the wake of the accident.

“Saying they’ve prayed for me — that has meant the most, the prayers,” she said.

“Because without that, I’m telling you, I would not be there,” Riddle added. “He has supplied every need — not every want, but every need.”

She’s anxious to thank those who responded in he victims’ time of need.

“I’ve been wanting to thank all the firemen, the EMTs, the paramedics, everybody that was on the scene that day, everybody that has called, said things, done anything, the ones that helped with the [fundraising] roadblock,” Riddle said. “All the prayers. I mean, it has just been unbelievable that people have stuck with us like they have.”

Riddle said she was motivated to open her own shop and get back to work because she was unsure when Classic Styles Salon owner Beth Finnell would be reopening.

“I really could not wait financially until the first of the year,” she said. “Not knowing when she was going to open, I had to do something and one of my customers actually own this building. So I got with them and rented it. I’ve always wanted a shop of my own. It’s been my dream.”

Riddle has been doing hair for 17 years. She had been with Classic Styles for just a few years.

“It was two years July the 13,” she said.

She admits it’s different being away from her former coworkers.

“It does, but I do have two girls that are coming to work later. I’m just waiting on them,” Riddle said.  “I’m actually very thankful, grateful and blessed to be back at work.”

Riddle has quickly bounced back from her injuries, but she was in bad shape on the scene the day of the accident.

Clark said Riddle’s husband, Paul, was at his house when they learned about the crash through a coworker’s call.

“So Paul and I loaded up in my car and drove down there. And as soon as we got there, found out that she was already gone, that she was one of the first they put on the Life-Star,” Clark said.

“On scene I was actually the worst,” Riddle added. “I died four times.”

Because of the way she was pinned, her airway became blocked each time she lost consciousness, she said.

Riddle’s co-workers and the others injured are mending.

“They are starting to recuperate really well,” she said. “I think Beth is pretty much going to reopen sometime around the first of the year but in a different location.”