Even though Justin Carey was brought to PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center in bad shape, his doctors are optimistic about his recovery.
Carey was injured in a car crash Monday morning when a Nissan Maxima driven by Shaun Johnson, 46, of Vancouver hit him at the intersection of Northeast 82nd Avenue and Northeast 289th Street. Carey had been waiting for the school bus to Battle Ground High School and wasn’t found until about 90 minutes later. The tow-truck driver who was retrieving Johnson’s car heard him calling for help from the ditch.
Trauma surgeon Dr. George Dulabon said the 16-year-old boy suffered two broken femurs and two severed femoral arteries. He had lost a lot of blood, but after five to six hours of surgery Monday, doctors were able to restore blood flow to his lower legs. Carey will undergo one more surgery, scheduled for today, and will be off a ventilator by the afternoon, the doctor said. From there, Dulabon said, Carey will be in non-weight-bearing mode for six weeks and will face several months of rehabilitation.
But, Dubalon said, he will walk.
“The good thing: He is a young strong kid and he’ll mend those bones very well,” Dulabon said in a press conference Tuesday.
There is, however, a potential for permanent disability in his right leg, which may affect his ability to do more than walk, such as play sports, Dulabon said. The doctor added that with modern advancements in braces, the disability wouldn’t be very limiting.
“Really is up to Justin … force of will oftentimes overcomes a limiting disability,” he said.
Janette Chumley and Jim Carey, Justin’s parents, both say that Justin is a fighter.
“Right now, we stand by his side and make sure he makes a full recovery,” Chumley said.
The couple said they did not wish to talk about Johnson, the driver. Detectives with the Clark County Sheriff’s Office have to complete an analysis of the crumpled car and wait for blood test results before determining any potential charges, said Sgt. Fred Neiman. A court records check indicates that in September 1999, Johnson was found guilty of possessing methamphetamine.
Johnson was treated at PeaceHealth and released.
In the first day after the accident, Jim Carey said, there was a moment when they thought they had lost their son. “There was a moment, but only a moment,” he said.
Chumley said that when she first heard about her son’s injuries, the information was confusing.
“I can’t really explain what it felt like, as a mom, to have your son laying in a ditch for two hours and not being able to help him,” she said, choking up. “It was heart-wrenching.”
Both parents say it was divine intervention that led Charles Barrett to do a double-check around the accident scene and find their son after deputies and fire personnel had already left.
“He saved my son’s life. There’s no amount of thanks in the world that can cover what he did for us,” Chumley said.
“I believe God saved his strength and kept him alive until he found him,” Carey said.
They described Justin as a warm and caring teenager, involved in the ROTC program, as well as shooting and four-wheeling.
Jim Carey said that Justin’s plan was to be in the military, and he is hoping that that goal is still a possibility.
“I don’t think this will impair him. I believe God can really heal him and he’ll make a full recovery,” Jim Carey said.
The couple have set up a webpage where they will update Justin’s story and where those interested can make donations: http://caringbridge.org/visit/justincarey.