The North Bend Eagle


Benefit scheduled July 30 for Cerny daughter

by Mary Le Arneal
Published 7/27/22

Macaela Cerny Happel is a blessed girl. And she knows it.

Not only has she survived a near-fatal accident, she has a loving family who are trying to help her get back on her feet.

Macaela Happel couldn’t be happier with the life she has been blessed with thanks to her family. Pictured with her bonus daughter Lennox, her partner Adam, and her son Cayden, Happel (far right) enjoys all the time she has with them.

Happel’s aunts, Jeanne Fredrickson, Collette Stoltenburg and Diane Treat, are organizing a benefit for her Saturday, July 30, at the North Bend City Auditorium. A cornhole tournament with a $350 prize will be featured. A silent auction has items such as Husker football tickets, Green Bay Packer tickets, Vala’s Pumpkin Patch tickets, homemade quilt, wine basket, gift cards, photography session and concert tickets.

A sloppy joe dinner will run from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. and beer will be served

The daughter of Steve and Lori Cerny of North Bend, Macaela is a 2007 graduate of North Bend Central and has a respiratory therapy degree from Southeast Community College. She was headed home from her first day at a new job when she dropped her phone in her car as she was traveling west along Interstate 80. The traffic was clear so she unbuckled her seatbelt, and took her eyes off the road for a split second and went for the phone.

Happel, 33, crossed three lanes of traffic and hit a concrete barrier. A driver in the eastbound lane saw the accident and called 911. The last thing Happel remembers is sitting back up and hitting her head. Her next memory was four days later.

A friend trying to get hold of her tracked her phone. When he saw it was in the same place on I-80 for 45 minutes, he called her sister, Clarissa, who looked at the Omaha Scanner Facebook page and saw there was an accident at that location. It also said where the victim had been taken. It was her sister.

Clarissa, a surgical tech, went to the hospital and when she knew her sister had survived, called her parents. They arrived by 11 p.m. and did not leave for days.

Macaela broke some ribs, but the major trauma was internal bleeding. She was life-flighted to a trauma center. After four days with four surgeries, two heart massages and six units of blood transfusions, they thought she might make it. When she woke up her hands were tied because she was on a ventilator and they did not want her to pull it out. She was home in 10 days.

Happel has not returned to work. She continues to be short of breath because of the broken ribs and is taking time to heal.

“Overall I feel pretty good,” Happel said. “I can’t go for walks because I run out of breath. I just started driving last week and had flashbacks. I wouldn’t let anyone drive with me. I’m just healing, doing lots of healing.”

A lesson learned. Happel said she doesn’t touch her phone in her car and always remains buckled in.

Happel has a 10-year-old son, Cayden, who has been very helpful to her at home.

“I am thankful and blessed for the amazing support system I have,” Happel said.

Since she was ending one job and starting a new one the next day, she is not sure of insurance coverage.

The planned benefit will help her with her medical expenses. An account is also set up at Platte Valley Bank for the Macaela Happel Benefit. Donations can also be made at under “Macaela Happel Benefit” organized by Jeanne Fredickson.

On Sunday, July 31, friends in Omaha are having a Carnival Benefit for her at the Cellar 44 Wine Bar from noon to 5.

And today, Happel is making progress, and hopes to start her new job Aug. 1.

“She’s on the mend, and that’s all we need to know now,” Mom Lori said.


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