ORLANDO, Fla. – The fundraiser to support a Brevard County rocket launch photographer critically injured in a head-on crash has exceeded its $50,000 goal with help from the space media community.
Jenny Hautmann, 20, was on her way to photograph NASA’s Lucy mission launch early Saturday morning.
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As she was driving along State Road 407 near the Beachline Expressway, a U-Haul truck driving the opposite direction drifted into her lane and crashed head-on into her Tesla Model 3, according to Florida Highway Patrol.
Hautmann was airlifted to the hospital where her family said she has since undergone five surgeries.
“She has undergone surgeries to remove her ruptured spleen, repair multiple breaks in both of her legs, pelvic bone and shattered foot, a tracheostomy procedure, and facial reconstruction of her jaw, nose, and cheekbones,” Hautmann’s sister wrote on the GoFundMe page.
Space media colleagues, friends, and fans of her rocket photography quickly rallied around Hautmann, who remains in critical condition. In less than 24 hours, contributions to the fundraiser grew to over $50,000.
The top donation of $9,000 is listed with the name ‘Jared Isaacman;’ the same name as the billionaire who funded this summer’s all-civilian trip to space aboard a SpaceX Crew Dragon capsule.
Hundreds of others shared positive messages online after donating to the fund.
“She is one of the most dedicated people out there I know, even compared to those with decades of experience,” friend and media colleague Richard Angle said.
“To be a launch photographer, we’re a different breed,” NASA Spaceflight’s Julia Bergeron said, who has worked alongside Hautmann. “Jenny was willing no matter the hour to be there.”
Hautmann is a professional photographer for the space media company Supercluster, taking pictures and video of dazzling rocket launches and spaceflight activity around Kennedy Space Center with sharp precision.
“She is profoundly talented,” Supercluster Chief Robin Seemangal told News 6.
The remote camera she placed at the NASA launch site before the car crash still captured the magnificent ULA Atlas V rocket blasting off from Cape Canaveral Space Force Station at 5:34 a.m.
A colleague of @JennyHPhoto collected her remote cameras from the launch pad where she beautifully captured Lucy's liftoff.— Robin (@nova_road) October 19, 2021
Jenny is committed to covering spaceflight and truly loves taking photos.
Her incredibly supportive parents Susanne and John wanted us to share this. pic.twitter.com/sUIV3c8vq7
The FHP continues to investigate the crash, which killed the 36-year-old driver of the U-Haul truck and critically injured his wife in the passenger seat.
“[Jenny] was basically trapped in the car. They had to cut the roof off of the Tesla do a lot to extricate her out,” FHP Lt. Kim Montes said. She said an initial report shows Hautmann’s legs were pinned inside the Tesla for nearly one hour before being freed by Brevard County Fire Rescue.
Montes said a sergeant at the scene remarked at how well the Tesla held up during the crash.
“They had to basically cut that car apart to get to her,” she said.
Despite living with cystic fibrosis, Hautmann’s family says the condition has never held Jenny back from pursuing her career in photography. Miraculously, the family says Saturday’s crash spared her compromised lungs.
“She is still heavily sedated and in and out of consciousness but is starting to communicate with us with minor hand and lip movements. Her medical team is also slowly starting to wean her off the ventilator,” the family said in an update posted Wednesday on GoFundMe.