Oregon teen defies odds after life-threatening jolt

Nurses didn't expect him to survive, doctors predicted brain damage

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REDMOND, Ore. (AP) -- Seven months after he raised an irrigation pipe and it touched a power line, Kyle Reed still doesn't have a memory of the jolt that emergency room nurses didn't expect him to survive and doctors figured would cause brain damage.

But he's gone off to college now, and his family and friends say he's back to being what one buddy calls "just a big, goofy guy."

The former Redmond High School athlete's story began with a Jefferson County hunting outing in May with two friends, the Bulletin newspaper in Bend reported.

He was thrown to the ground after the pipe and power line caused a small explosion. His eyes rolled up. He took what could have been his last breath.

Daulton Hanks jumped on his friend and began a modified version of CPR that was "a little bit of improvisation and a little bit of knowledge," while Connor Lau called 911. Law enforcement and emergency personnel arrived. Reed was airlifted to St. Charles Bend and later driven, still in a coma, to Portland's Legacy Emanuel Medical Center.

"We didn't find this out until after the fact," said his father, Steve Reed, "but basically all the nurses didn't think he'd survive the night."

He did, though. Two nights later, as doctors were talking to his family about brain damage he would suffer, he regained consciousness, locked in an unfamiliar setting.

"I woke up and thought, 'This isn't my room,'" Reed said. "It was two or three in the morning and I kept thinking … 'Where am I?' I searched the room and found my mom's laptop. I got on Facebook and saw all this stuff about me and thought, `What did I do?'

"I couldn't open the (hospital) door, and I was really loopy. I ended up posting on Facebook, 'Someone get me out of this prison!'"

Return to normal

Later that week, Reed walked out of the hospital and even attended a potluck that helped raise more than $10,000 toward his medical costs. Doctors said his size -- 6-foot-3, 220 pounds -- likely saved his life.

The first month after the accident was a bit of a fog, he said, like a post-concussion haze.

But he said things gradually returned to normal. The scars on his left foot, where the electricity left his body -- there are two pin holes in the shoes he was wearing -- began to heal. Soon he was back to working with his dad at a fence business and playing golf and basketball with his friends.

"That first month, you could tell he was struggling a little bit remembering things," his father said. "But when he came home for Thanksgiving, it was obvious he was back to normal."

The football, basketball and track athlete at Redmond is now attending Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff and competing in intramural sports.

Hanks is in college in California, Lau in Washington.

Lau says sometimes he'll get a text from Reed and take a moment to appreciate the fact that his buddy is still around to shoot him a message.

Hanks gave a presentation in a psychology class about the incident this fall, reflecting on the accident for the first time in detail.

"After I sat down and relived everything, I had to call Kyle," Hanks says. "I needed to hear his voice."

Back in Oregon and hanging out during the Christmas break, the three friends are still close.

"Those guys have always been some of my best friends," Reed says. "But after (the accident), there's a different connection. Same closeness, but different connection. I owe them anything they could ask for. It's been pretty cool, all my friends have gotten a lot closer after that."