Friday, September 15, 2017

What distracted driving does to a family


My stepson, Max Kelly, is a very intelligent young man who is addicted to electronic devices. Since he began driving, he has totaled out three cars and had another five known accidents. The last accident was life altering. Not only life altering for Max but for our family as well.
On Jan. 5, 2017, Max was returning from college and was excited about going to Lawrence for the weekend. He was tweeting a buddy of his at 11:18 a.m. and was not looking ahead, driving 75 to 80 mph on I-70 west of Manhattan. Max struck the rear end of a KDOT snowplow that was turning around (mile marker 320). He was taken by air ambulance to Stormont Vail Healthcare Hospital in Topeka.
Max's vehicle in the Jan. 5, 2017, crash.
Our lives changed that day. I was traveling for my job and my wife, Nicole, called me when I was on a layover in Detroit. I diverted my flight back to Kansas to see Max in the hospital. Max’s injuries were life threatening - Nicole and I were numb.
The next 20 some days Max was in a coma. On the seventh day, Nicole and I met with the neurosurgeon to make the final decision if we were to sustain his life. We kept him alive and he was classified at a 2 on the Ranchos Los Amigos scale (1 is a vegetable). Max was transferred to the Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital in Lincoln, Neb. Nicole and I began visiting Max almost every weekend.
Luckily since I travel so much, we used hotel loyalty points to stay the weekends. Every trip still was very expensive. This event has strained us financially and more so emotionally.
Max’s 19th birthday was spent in the hospital. Max eventually went to QLI in Omaha, Neb., and began extensive rehabilitation. Again, travel almost every weekend. This is emotionally stressful to both of us - many tears and heated debates haunt us daily.
Max began to wake up from his traumatic brain injury and realized something bad had happened to him This was sometime in June. He began to ask questions such as, was he alone when the wreck occurred? He calls Nicole multiple times a day upset and wants to come home. Hearing him begging daily to come home and that we are forcing him to be in a rehabilitation hospital is very hard for the both us.
Focusing on Max has played a big part of not spending quality time with his younger brother Nick. This is stressful as well as owning our own business. Since Max’s accident, we had to move our business to a new location, turn down caterings and forgot to get into festivals to vend food. Being gone from home during these times to visit Max has affected our business, relationships, family, friends, house, daily chores and our way of life. 
Nicole has been taking care of Max’s care and it has not been easy. Since he is over 18, we have had to hire two different lawyers to handle his affairs. Nicole is on the phone daily with case managers, nurses, doctors, lawyers and insurance companies attending to his care. We have great insurance, but it only covers so much.
Max is to come home soon and we are trying to get our house reconfigured so it can accommodate someone with permanent disabilities. Thankfully we are getting help from friends, but it is very stressful. I also was planning on retiring next January, but due to insurance and expenses, it may now be three more years. Max will be coming home soon and we must re-learn to live our lives with someone with disabilities.

 Mike Weibel is Max’s step-father and is from Topeka.

 

18 comments:

  1. No comment needed on this one!

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  2. So sad. No one should have to go through this. Prayers for healing to you and your family.

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  3. Thank you for sharing what you've experienced, how quickly something bad can happen, something that was preventable and how suddenly a family's way of life has changed forever.

    Hopefully by sharing, it will make a difference. You'll never know for sure how many, because you won't hear about the ones who choose to put down their phone while driving after reading your story.

    Take care.

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  4. Stories like these break my heart because they are so preventable. I can't tell you how many times I've met a driver with their nose down in their phone. I hope that people will read your story and realize those texts, tweets, snapchats, facebook posts, etc. can wait! It's time to put the phone down and just drive.

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  5. Thank you for sharing your story. You guys are amazing strong people

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  6. All of you are so brave. Thanks for sharing.

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  7. Please check into Hyperbaric Oxygen Therapy as a healing for brain injury. Feel free to contact me for more info or just research on YouTube "hbot + traumatic brain injury"

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  8. I'm alive and walking I'm still smart also

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  9. It's a sad story but Max did that to himself. Totaling more than one car is enough to scare someone. This kid did it multiple times.....who was buying him these cars. Probably the parents who are now seeking sympathy for someone who could have killed a family.

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    1. STOP right now-it is done and he damage is there-no pointing fingers!

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    2. Other parents need to learn from this....stop providing cars to a child who has this addiction.

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  10. Ali yes he did but it is closer you are neither a parent or a kind person. I can remembering making mistakes as a young person but none this great. And how are you so sure that the cars weren't bought by him. You know what they say about assumptions.

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  11. I could not write this paper because it was to emotional for me. I think the saddest thing about this is that it is not just kids. Every week heck everyday when I travel I see adults who should know better texting or on their phones doing who knows what. I think everyone has become to comfortable in their cars and they don"t realize how quickly it could be them. As much as we would all like to say we don't do it that is a lie, everyone out there has looked down at their phone one time or another while driving. I don't believe anyone gets in their car thinking today it could be them. I also don't believe anyone Max's age every thinks about what happens if I live? will my life be the same? and no parent out their ever thinks about if it was their kid. {Nicole ,Maxs mom}

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  12. I had a young friend like Max. She had several accidents while texting, but couldn't seem to learn. The last one, she finally "learned". She died. She was only 20 or 21.

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  13. While this is tragic in so many ways, don't you think that his step parents or the authorities should have suspended his driving privileges long before this event (hard to call it an "accident")??? He could have killed innocent people! If he doesn't like the rehab, just think how he would like 20 years in prison. There's plenty of blame to go around Mike!

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  14. Thank you for sharing your family's journey, including the more minor accidents prior to the major accident. I have an intelligent, screen distraced daughter who is beginning to drive. Sharing this with her, complete with the wreckage photo, will hopefully be one more reason to help her make safe decisions regarding her screen and driving.

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  15. Thank you for sharing your family's journey, including the more minor accidents prior to the major accident. I have an intelligent, screen distraced daughter who is beginning to drive. Sharing this with her, complete with the wreckage photo, will hopefully be one more reason to help her make safe decisions regarding her screen and driving.

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