Twenty-four-year-old Ben Purcell of Bangs figured he'd have a traditional Thanksgiving meal with his family today, probably watch some football — Dallas Cowboys vs. Washington Redskins — although Purcell is a Pittsburg fan.
Like most people, Purcell has much to be thankful for this Thanksgiving Day. "I'm thankful that I'm alive," Purcell said after his father, Ronnie, called him to the phone.
Purcell was seriously injured in a three-vehicle accident on Oct. 29 on U.S. Highway 67/84, just west of the Bangs Hill. Purcell was driving a Jeep that was involved in a rear-end collision. The Jeep stopped on the highway, and after Purcell got out and started to walk to the other vehicle, another car, approaching from the rear, struck Purcell's Jeep. And, it struck Purcell.
Purcell was flown by helicopter ambulance to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth.
Purcell, who was working at Wal-Mart and attending classes at Howard Payne University at the time of the accident, was released from the hospital last Saturday and is receiving physical therapy three times a week as an out-patient.
"I'm all right. I just have a little soreness. Other than that, I'm going pretty good," Purcell said. He said he wants to thank the community "for all your prayers and everyone who visited me."
Ronnie Purcell, also speaking by phone, said. "We're just super-blessed. It's a miracle he survived"
Several other area families are watching their loved ones recover from debilitating injuries they sustained in accidents earlier this year.
The Bulletin spoke to representatives of two other families.
Judy Steel of Brownwood put her thoughts together on paper:
My family will not forget the date of Aug. 28 this year.
My older son, Richard, broke his neck that evening trying to ride a horse he had ridden just days before.
He was flown straight from the ranch to Hendrick Medical Center in Abilene. As the family gathered, the neurosurgeon told us we were facing a different lifestyle and showed us the damage ot Richard's neck and spine.
As they prepared Richard for surgery at 1:30 a.m., the family gathered around his bed and prayed. The next morning the surgeon said the first 24 hours would tell us what we were facing but they had to wait for the swelling to go down to see how much damage had been done.
Prayer groups in Texas, Oklahoma and California were all praying.
Day by day and sometimes hour by hour Richard continued to make progress.
He told his wife, Donna, "I will walk out of here and he worked very hard to accomplish that feat.
On Oct. 12, he did just that — granted, he was on forearm crutches but the Rehab Center allowed him to walk out the front door.
His hands have healed enough for him to use his computer keyboard and his grip is getting stronger.
On Dec. 3, he will return to work, belong allowed to work a half-day for now.
We are all so thankful for this miracle from God.
Jherica Simental, also of Brownwood, spoke about the progress her sister, Brenya, 18, is making following a Sept. 27 auto accident. Brenya and Miranda Elizondo, also 18, were seriously injured when the Isuzu Trooper in which they were riding rolled over several times. The accident happened on U.S. Highway 183 near the turnoff to the Owens Community. The two young women were roommates before the accident and they had earlier been co-workers at Mi Familia Restaurant. The women were flown out in helicopter ambulances from the accident scene — Brenya to Hendrick Medical Center and Miranda to John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth.
Brenya was later transferred to Parkland Hospital in Dallas.
"Brenya is now back home. She's done with therapy," Jherica Simental said. Brenya has been able to work some at her job at Mi Familia. "We're excited about that," Jherica said.
The family is "so very thankful" to the community for a fund-raiser last month to benefit the two women, Jherica said.
"Miranda, from what I know, she's back home. She's able to stand and take a few steps," Jherica said.
"We're going to see some of our family come together (for Thanksgiving) and thank and praise the Lord," Jherica said.