Relief, joy greet assault victim Tyler Burton

Mountain View grad returns to Vancouver to continue recovery

By Paul Suarez, Columbian freelance

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On the Web

Tyler Burton's mother started a Caringbridge page for her son that is available at:http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/tylerburton44

You can help

People interested in donating cash to help with Tyler's recovery can deposit money in the "Praying for Tyler Burton" account at Bank of America.

Tyler Burton's journey from the edge of death in California led him back to Vancouver on Thursday.

Family and some 20 friends greeted him with a "Welcome Home Tyler" banner at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center.

Burton, a 2010 graduate of Mountain View High School, sustained "significant head trauma" after being punched in the face on Oct. 28, according to a Chico, Calif., police bulletin. At first doctors weren't sure if he would survive, but he suddenly started to improve after Thanksgiving.

At that point, they said he "would just stare at a wall the rest of his life," Burton's stepdad, Roddy Hash, said. "Who wants that for a 21 year-old football kid?"

Burton played football at Mountain View and was attending Shasta College in Redding, Calif., where he was a running back on the football team's starting lineup.

In early December he surprised his family and doctors by starting to regain control of the right side of his body (doctors said he would be paralyzed on the left). He started talking and recognizing people.

On Dec. 6, he was released from intensive care and transferred to an acute-care center in Redding, Calif.

About 12:30 p.m. Thursday, he was flown home in an Airlift Northwest jet along with two nurses and his girlfriend, Taylor Ray. "The state of California's assault victims program paid the bill," Roddy Hash said.

His mom, Kimberly Hash, credits community prayers and support for the unexpected recovery.

"I know he's doing so well because of all the prayers," she said on Thursday. She was amazed at the support and kindness of strangers. People donated time, food, money, places to stay and sent cards, she said. "It's amazing."

Kimberly and her husband have been by Burton's side along with Tyler's father, Roger Burton, since Tyler was first injured.

Now he's able to control his right hand, is talking in complete sentences and feeding himself, Roddy Hash said.

"(Doctors are) just blown away how fast he's come back," Roddy Hash said.

On Wednesday, he was able to stand up on his own for about 15 or 20 seconds. He's moving his left leg a bit and even though he has no control over his left arm, he is feeling pain in it, Roddy Hash said.

He also came back with a new-found dry sense of humor.

"I said he died and came back a comedian," Roddy Hash said. "He's hilarious."

Roddy Hash said Burton was excited to discover he would be going home.

"He just lit up," Roddy Hash said. "He's excited to get home and go at it."

The family suspects Burton will be in the hospital's 4 West Inpatient Rehab for a minimum of four weeks.

"We're hoping after that he will come home," Roddy Hash said.

Hash said that Tyler is motivated to get walking and back out on his own. His mom acknowledged he probably won't be playing football again.

The man who allegedly punched Burton in the face, Andres Rodriguez, 20, was booked into the Butte County Jail in Oroville, Calif., shortly after the incident on suspicion of assault, police said. His court date is Jan. 28. in Chico, Roddy Hash said.