Doctors have hope for wounded Vancouver soldier's recovery

2009 Union High grad hurt while deployed in Afghanistan

By Paul Suarez, Columbian web producer

Published:

Updated: January 5, 2012, 7:07 PM

 

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To stay up to date on Michael Crawford’s condition, visit his public Facebook page.

At first, doctors thought that Michael Crawford may never walk again. The Vancouver soldier was seriously injured Dec. 27 when an improvised explosive device detonated near his convoy in Paktia, Afghanistan. Three people died in the attack and two others were injured.

Now, the 2009 graduate from Union High School is in intensive care at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio, Texas. His doctors think he may have a shot at standing again.

“If he keeps doing his part and we all do our part to support him, then the possibilities are endless,” said Carol Steinmetz, Crawford’s mom.

Steinmetz, of Battle Ground, and Crawford’s father, Adam Crawford of Vancouver, reunited with their son at the San Antonio hospital on Dec. 31, according to a Facebook page set up to document Michael’s recovery. They’re optimistic for his recovery.

At first, doctors thought the nerves in his spine were severed, Steinmetz said. Turns out, they were just out of place and irritated. Doctors in Texas were able to put his nerves back in place, she said.

They’re hoping for a similar situation with his legs. He has surgery scheduled Friday to repair major fractures in his left arm and legs, Steinmetz said. They expect to be able to assess the damage to his nerves during the surgery.

Right now, he’s heavily sedated, but pieces of his personality shine through the medication, Steinmetz said.

“As a parent, you know your child more than anybody,” she said. “We can see it (his personality) coming through.”

He sings himself to sleep listening to what his mom calls “redneck” country music.

Those that know Crawford say his attitude and support from family and friends will get him through the ordeal.

Attempts to reach Adam Crawford on Thursday were unsuccessful. Larry Rounsley, pastor at Liberty Bible Church in Salmon Creek, said he last spoke with him about two days ago.

“I was impressed how he was doing,” Rounsley said.

Adam Crawford said he believes in the work and care the medical personnel are providing, he has confidence in God and confidence in his son, Rounsley said.

Koby Padilla, youth pastor at the church, said he knew Crawford through his high school years.

“He is one of the funniest kids. He was kind of the youth group clown and comedian,” Padilla said. Michael Crawford is the kind of guy you know you will have fun with, he said.

Going into the military and serving his country was his first choice coming out of high school, Padilla said.

That dedication continued after he was in the service.

Crawford volunteered to be in the group that was deployed to Afghanistan, his mom said.

“He really wanted to serve his country. He wouldn’t have been complete without a deployment like that,” she said.

Crawford’s grandmother, Colleen Bowers of Battle Ground, said he apologized to his mom when he first realized she was with him in the San Antonio hospital. He thought he could have done more, she said.

Bowers said her grandson “isn’t out of the ball park” yet.

After Friday’s surgery, he’ll need a skin graft to close a wound on his left leg, she said. He has a head injury that doctors are monitoring, and will need to progressively learn to deal with pain on less medication.

Doctors said he may move to a regular hospital room by Saturday and could start physical therapy as soon as Monday, Steinmetz said.

She plans on staying with her son until he is able to take care of himself.

She said the wounded warrior project and military is helping her family cope with the ordeal by providing meals, support and eventually a place for people to stay.

“It sounds like they have some wonderful supportive people,” Bowers said.

Paul Suarez: 360-735-4522 or paul.suarez@columbian.com.