How Lauren Ray Persevered Through Life-Changing Injuries to Rejoin Her IEA Team

BY Isabella Littlejohn

When Lauren Ray was just 15 years old, a drunk driving accident claimed her father’s life, and nearly ended hers as well.

On October 15, 2022 in Okaloosa County, FL, a drunk driver ran a stop sign and collided with Master Deputy Kevin Ray’s vehicle. He died on the scene and his daughter Lauren was flown to the hospital with critical injuries. 

The family, and the community at large, were wracked with grief, but a story of resilience and determination also emerged. Before the accident, Lauren was a committed equestrian, thriving on her IEA team with plans to compete in rated shows in the near future. 

Lauren barely survived the crash, emerging with a traumatic brain injury and many broken bones. She spent over five weeks in the intensive care unit, followed by two months of intensive rehabilitation. The recovery process focused on regaining her ability to ride horses, surf, and play the harp and piano, while enhancing her balance and multitasking skills. 

With an unwavering goal to rejoin her IEA team—and hopes to one day ride for Auburn—Lauren worked hard to overcome her injuries. She recently got back on a horse for the first time, and a few days later in just her second lesson after the accident, she was cantering again.

Looking ahead, Lauren aspires to be a role model and inspiration for other accident victims and those on the path to recovery. She dreams of earning herself a college scholarship for riding or music at Auburn University. This January, Lauren has plans to participate in IEA and CPI competitions. Her new horse, Magic Highflight, will be her steady partner on the journey back to competitive riding.