To all those who are concerned,
On Thursday February 24th at approximately 1 a.m. in Atlantic, Iowa, our tour van hit "black ice" and overturned off of the highway 80. There were seven of us aboard, we were doing 40 miles per hour and slowing down. Patrick Scott was driving the vehicle when it hit the stretch of "black ice", which caused us to skid out of control. Patrick temporarily regained control of the vehicle only to be pulled off the highway by the weight of the equipment trailer we were towing. Fortunately for us, the weight of the trailer then saved all our lives by stopping the vehicle from rolling over multiple times.
The crash was 10 seconds long. All of us were wearing our seat belts except for Alex who was lying down in the back seat. We all hit against the roof of the van upon impact. Six of us sustained minor cuts and bruises. Dax Pierson, however, broke his neck upon impact. His head was then pinned beneath the front row of passenger seats. Upon dislodging his foot from what looked to be an unnatural position, Dax's air passage way was cleared and he began to breath and communicate with us. He told us immediately that he could not feel his lower body. We were met quickly by another motorist, the local sheriff, and an EMT team. The EMT's and firefighters carefully removed Dax from the overturned vehicle. He was then taken to Cas County hospital in Atlantic, Iowa. One hour later he was emergency air lifted by helicopter to Creighton University Hospital in Omaha Nebraska for X-rays and treatment.
(In a 15-minute window three trailer trucks and another passenger van all overturned on the same 10-mile stretch of highway and black ice.)
Dax is currently recovering at Creighton University Hospital in the intensive care unit where he will remain for the next three weeks at least. Fortunately Dax is completely covered by his health insurance provided by Amoeba Music in Berkeley California. So all of his care is being paid for and will continue to be covered through out his healing process. Both Dax's mother and father were contacted as soon as possible and arrived at the hospital in Omaha within 24 hours.
Dax shattered his c5 vertebrae, which is located at the base of the neck. When his vertebrae shattered it bruised his spinal chord and caused severe swelling around the c5 and adjacent vertebrae. His broken vertebrae were his only injury. Dax is currently experiencing paralysis from his nipple line down. His paralysis is very severe the muscles used to breathe and operate the lungs are located below the nipple line. As a result he is on a ventilator to help him breath. The ventilator is a tube that runs through Dax's mouth and into his lungs to facilitate respiration. It‚s presence coupled with Dax's inability to use his hands makes communication for Dax very difficult at the present time. Dax has remained conscious and cognizant throughout the entire process.
While broken bones can be mended, the spinal cord does NOT regenerate itself. There is new research into ways this might be achieved - specifically stem cell research - and a good many of these avenues of research are very promising. For now, however, we can pray for a miracle - and miracles DO happen - while at the same time learning to deal with the reality of Dax's new situation
On the 25th at 10 am Dax was taken in for surgery. His 4th and 6th vertebrae were fused in order to create a functional neck for Dax. All broken bone debris was removed and the spinal chord where his c5 broke was encased in a cage of sorts that will protect it and allowed the 4th and 6th vertebrae to be fused on either end of it. The operation was successful and there were no complications. Since then the swelling around the injury has decreased.
Dax's injury is now contained and the healing process has begun. The first major hurdle is to have Dax heal enough to be taken off of the ventilator. If this happens he will be given a tracheotomy. The tracheotomy will enable Dax to move his lips and communicate with those caring for him.
This step will be huge for his mental and physical comfort and will take all the strength and love he and those who cherish him can provide in the coming weeks. The end of Dax's stay in intensive care will hopefully coincide with him being weaned off of the ventilator and being given the tracheotomy. Due to the "open" or intensive nature of the surgery Dax underwent to have his vertebrae fused, that wound must heal completely and be free of infection before they can open a new wound when giving him a tracheotomy.
After his stay in intensive care Dax will be moved to a rehabilitation center for the rest of his recovery. It will most likely be in Texas as to be close to his mother who will be caring for him through this most difficult leg of his recovery. The rehabilitation process could range anywhere from 2 to 24 months. The process will be long and challenging for Dax, his strength, and the strength of those around him, both near and far.
In case it is unclear...Dax's mind is completely healthy and everything above his nipple line is in perfect working condition, so he can shrug his shoulders and move his arms slightly, it is only the presence of the ventilator tube in his mouth that prevents him from communicating verbally. His eyes are wide and his heart is strong.
To all of you who are sending him love and prayer, keep doing so it is working, and all of our concern and love remains utterly necessary. The physical healing process for this type of injury takes serious time patience and courage.
We are now organizing/preparing for Dax's immediate future care and rehabilitation as well as fund raising benefits. We appreciate everyone's patience as we prepare for the long road ahead of Dax. It will be important for all who love him to be present and offer aid not only while the tragedy is before us but when recovery is before us as well.
And recovery may be some time from now. As a result we will be establishing a web site for Dax that will allow everyone to enter his or her contact information for future contact and aid. This site will also provide health update information as it becomes available to us.
As you can imagine Dax's care, healing, treatment, and return to his "normal" life will be very expensive. We will do our best to keep all those concerned updated on both his health and how they can help, in the form of both monetary donation and sheer love.
There is a crowd of beautiful people gathering behind Dax... The overwhelming outpouring of love and concern for him has already begun to work its magic on his mental and physical strength...so please keep it coming...and thank you all.
This just in:
March 2nd: dax was taken off of the ventilator...he is now talking and smiling.
All flowers cards and positive thoughts can be addressed to:
c/o Creighton University Hospital
601 N. 30th St.
Omaha, NE 68131