“Mom, I’m OK.”
In an email to the Bulletin, Stephanie Johnston recalled what her son, Dilan — a 17-year-old May High School senior — calmly told her after Dilan’s wrecked vehicle was found the morning of Aug. 26.
The wreck was hidden from view in heavy brush off U.S. Highway 183, and Dilan was found nearly 2 1/2 hours later after his mother “pinged” his phone, first responders said at the scene.
Dilan remains at John Peter Smith Hospital in Fort Worth, where doctors had to amputate part of his left leg.
The teen was driving in for early-morning football practice when his Chevrolet S10 Blazer sport utility vehicle left the road two miles south of May. The SUV entered heavy brush and overturned.
Dilan was extricated from the SUV and flown by an Air Evac Lifeteam helicopter to the Fort Worth hospital.
Dilan’s cousin, Kelsey Sadler, who works at Express ER in Abilene, said via Facebook message that Stephanie Johnston pinged her son’s phone using an app called Life360.
In the nearly two weeks that have passed since the accident, the community has rallied around Dilan and his family with prayers, expressions of support and monetary donations.
“I don’t know where to start — I’m overwhelmed with everyone that has prayed and showed support for Dilan. He is loved by many. We had the fifth surgery today (Wednesday, Sept. 4) on the left leg and it was successful to close the wound.”
Stephanie Johnston began a Sept. 4 email to the Bulletin with those words and indicated she would answer questions about Dilan.
Johnston works at Prosperity Bank in Early, and her husband, Jason, works at Prosperity Bank in Gorman. The Johnstons have another son, Preston, 19, and a daughter, Shelbie, 9.
“Dilan is smart — does very well in school — and is conscientious about grades and attendance. He loves to hunt, fish, and play golf,” Johnston said via a Sept. 5 email.
“He has a contagious smile and laugh. He is involved in all sports and loves to cheer on his teammates. He respects and loves his coaches.”
Johnston repeated that the support from the community has been “overwhelming."
“We cannot put into words how thankful we are for the prayers, messages, phone calls, donations and fundraisers. We can only say that we are truly grateful for each and everyone. We are blessed to be a part of this community,” Johnston said.
Johnston explained the circumstances that led to the amputation of part of her son’s left leg.
“Dilan was at the crash site for nearly two and a half hours before he was found,” Johnston said. “His lower left leg had no blood flow. The vascular team was able to restore blood flow. However, the orthopedic team let us know it was marginal due to the time of accident and arriving at JPS.
“Throughout the week the doctors did what they could to save (the leg) but the lack of blood flow took effect on the leg and it was amputated. The doctors, nurses and anesthesiologists have been amazing here at JPS.”
When asked how Dilan is holding up physically and emotionally, Johnston replied, “Dilan is the strongest person we know. He told us he was lucky to be alive and he understands if they need to amputate. He said God has a plan for him.
“When we found him he was calm and told me ‘Mom I’m OK’ as calm as a person that was not involved in accident. He has a huge support team — pastors, coaches, family, friends that keep his spirits up.”
After his fifth surgery on Sept. 4, Johnston said in the Sept. 5 email, Dilan was in “a lot of pain but fights through it.”
She said her son had not at that time been able to get out of bed but “he is on the road to recovery.”
Johnston concluded by saying, “we do want to say ‘thank you.’ If we could, and knew every one that has prayed and donated, I would give them a hug. It’s been very emotional how many people want to help Dilan.
“It lifted his spirit when he saw the Facebook post where the players prayed for him before the (Richland Springs) game, and the Richland Springs Booster Club passed the hat in efforts to raise money for him during the football game. We are simply grateful!
“We are thankful for family and friends that have created the benefit account, raffles, bake sales, Facebook fundraiser, and taken up monetary donations for Dilan.”
“I know I’m biased, but they’re such an amazing family and Dilan is such a fighter. He’s only 17 years old and he’s the strongest person I know.”
Those were the words Kelsey Sadler wrote via Facebook message about her injured cousin.
“As far as fundraising goes, we have a few raffles going,” Sadler said via Facebook message.
“Cash Texas Pawn owed by Keith Neil donated a gun for us to raffle. Dos Cazadores Ranch owned by Bale and Ester Marquez have donated an Axis Doe Hunt on their private ranch.
“Car Toyz owned by Andre Ibarra has donated a full car window tint. Heavenly J Cakes owned by Rachel Lombrano donated two cakes to raffle that were both very successful. The winners of both cakes donated them back so she will be doing another raffle on Monday.”
Sadler said she started a fundraiser on Facebook that went well. “We also have some shirts out and I have a few things in the works for May’s Homecoming,” Sadler said.
“It’s truly amazing how this community has come together to selflessly give to this amazing family in their time of need.”
Sadler also posted on Face book:
“With the help of Gwen Robinette and Willie’s T’s, we have a shirt we are selling to raise funds for Dilan. All proceeds will go towards medical expenses! The shirt will be $20 and will come in both adult and kid sizes.
“For those of you that are not local but would like a shirt, stay tuned. We will have a site going up on Monday, Sept. 9, and you can have the shirt shipped directly to you.”
Anyone interested in a shirt can contact Sadler (254-433-2360), Gwen Hollis Robinette (325-998-3490) or Seth Johnston (254-631-7816), Sadler said in the Facebook post. “We ask that you either text us or message us here on Facebook, because it will be easier to keep up with that way,” Sadler said in the post.