Four years ago this February, the daughter of Zoey 101 star and country singer Jamie Lynn Spears, Maddie, suffered a devastating accident when the ATV Maddie was driving flipped into a pond, trapping then eight-year-old under the water. Spears and her husband Jamie Watson immediately dived into the water, but were unable to pull her out; the local ambulance service were able to get the little girl out and to a hospital. Maddie ultimately made a full recovery, but Spears has rarely spoken about the traumatic incident for the family.
In a candid Instagram post last year, Spears recalled the accident. "It started like most Sunday’s, going to church, visiting family, to suddenly trying to save my daughters life, to them taking her away, to us believing we had lost her forever, and it literally felt like the world stood still around me."
In a statement at the time, the local sheriff's department noted of the accident (opens in new tab): "The ATV and child were instantly submerged in the water right before their eyes...The child was trapped and secured by the seatbelt and the ATV's safety netting. Within two minutes, Acadian Ambulance Services arrived and assisted in freeing the child from the cold waters."
Maddie was initially reported to be in critical condition. Thankfully, she began to recover, and was able to return to school a couple of months later. She even returned to playing sports, and the two paramedics who freed her attended her ninth birthday party. Spears wrote on Instagram in a now-deleted post: "The hardest milestone me and my family have ever faced was almost losing our beautiful Maddie, but thanks to God and the two angels in this picture we were able to celebrate Maddie turning 9 years old all together."
Wrote Spears on Instagram three years later: "I have never spoken fully in detail about that day, and the events that followed, but what I will share is that God blessed us with a true miracle. Maddie not only stayed here with us, but she made a full recovery."
On the four-year anniversary, Spears shared photos of the day she left the hospital with her daughter. "Happiest day of my life. I may be wearing hospital socks, since I didn’t have shoes, and someone else’s clothes, but I was walking out of that hospital with way more then I had going in, I had a healthy baby girl and nothing else mattered. We were given the ultimate gift, and we will NEVER take that for granted, especially knowing that this is not the case for so many others."
Jenny is the Director of Content Strategy at Marie Claire. Originally from London, she moved to New York in 2012 to attend the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism and never left. Prior to Marie Claire, she spent five years at Bustle building out its news and politics coverage. She loves, in order: her dog, goldfish crackers, and arguing about why umbrellas are fundamentally useless. Her first novel, EVERYONE WHO CAN FORGIVE ME IS DEAD, will be published by Minotaur Books in 2024.
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