Snowmobiler thanks doctors who saved his life

November 23, 2011 3:31:27 PM PST
A snowmobiling accident nearly destroyed the dreams of Forrest Ericksen. But now, nearly two years later, the teenager is battling back.

And the experience has changed his life.

Ericksen had a reunion Wednesday with the team at Advocate Condell Medical Center in Libertyville to give thanks to those who saved his life.

Two winters ago, Ericksen was competing in a snowmobile competition in Wauconda, wearing body protection made partially of kevlar, plus a helmet. But when he flipped in front of the giant snow machine, one of his skis found an opening in his armor -- right at his neck.

"He was not breathing on his own. He was not moving on his own. He was basically ... his heart was beating and that was about it," said trauma surgeon Dr. William Watson "One of the things it crashed was his facial artery. When your facial artery gets cut you can bleed through your skin, nose and mouth."

Doctors had a hard hard time keeping up with the amount of blood he was losing.

"When they brought me here, they said (the family was brought in) to say goodbyees, " Ericksen said. "So it was pretty amazing, without these guys, it would have been a whole different outcome."

He was in a coma for weeks, rehab for months.

"I couldn't walk. I couldn't talk. I couldn't eat," Ericksen said. "I believe the first therapy sessions were trying to get me to roll over in bed."

Said his mother, Mary Ellen Ericksen, "I knew he would pull through because he was very strong when it happened."

Two years later, Ericksen still has eye damage that will be repaired with surgery. He is 18 now, a freshman at U of I, where he plans to study medicine.

He is also back on the snowmobile. His mother wasn't happy but Ericksen said, "It's just something that you have to put behind you and something that you have to get back up on that saddle again."

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