Port Huron boy begins to miraculously heal after horrific crash.

January 4, 2017
Connor Weston flashes his adorable smile. - Contributed photo.

Connor Weston flashes his adorable smile.
– Contributed photo.

Port Huron boy begins to miraculously heal after horrific crash.

#OceanaCountyNews #US31crash

By Allison Scarbrough. Editor.

PORT HURON — Connor Weston, 5, is finally home after being hospitalized for six months following a horrific crash that almost took his life, July 5, on US 31 near New Era.

Connor and his family were traveling between summer vacation destinations when their car was rear-ended by a semi truck in heavy southbound traffic.

Connor is finally home with his siblings. - Contributed photo

Connor is finally home with his siblings.
– Contributed photo

Everyone in the family was injured, and Connor was hurt most severely with a “catastrophic brain injury,” his father Benjamin Weston said.

Doctors advised he and his wife Michelle to sign do-not-resuscitate orders for their youngest son if something went wrong, he said.

“The quality of life question was on the table,” Ben said. Two criteria need to be met for Connor’s quality of life, the father said. First, he needs to be able to communicate somehow, and second, there has to be assurance that he has the potential for joy. “If one of these two could never be met, and something went wrong, then there was the possibility that we would have to let him go. I cannot doom another human being to an existence of misery.”

Connor, who is in a wheelchair and requires 24-hour care, is proving that he can communicate and experience joy by smiling. The horrendous crash caused connections in his brain to become disconnected, Ben said. Thanks to his young age, neuro connections are re-growing. Had the injuries happened to an adult, the person would remain vegetative, he said. He watched his son lie motionless for a month.

But now, Connor is defying the odds and is making progress. “He does connor weston - 3something new about every two weeks,” Ben said.

Just two weeks before Christmas, Ben observed Connor make a motion toward a children’s book near his hospital bed. His palm was up next to the book as if he was trying to flip through the pages. He has also raised his arm in a sort of “bicep curl,” similar to his super hero idols’ gestures.

Connor has recently received the go-ahead to eat pureed foods, which is a huge milestone in his recovery. Doctors have not set any limit on how far the young boy will progress.

The mood was much more pessimistic last summer. When Connor left Devos Children’s Hospital in early August, Ben and Michelle were told he would likely remain in a vegetative state. Now, the boy is improving by “leaps and bounds,” he said.

The wreckage following the horrible crash.

The wreckage following the horrible crash.

After three surgeries and months of rehabilitation at Mary Free Bed, Connor finally got to go home Dec. 29. The family moved into a rental home, because their previous house was too small to accommodate Connor’s wheelchair and hospital bed and it is not handicapped-accessible. The family is still looking for a permanent home and a handicapped-accessible van, Ben said.

“We’re home under one roof,” Ben said. “I’m happy to be together again.”

While Connor was hospitalized, a new member joined the Weston Family. Baby Natalie is now 3 months old. “Michelle and Natalie are fine,” he said. Michelle was pregnant with the baby at the time of the crash.

Connor’s older brothers were both also hurt in the crash. Dylan, now 8 years old, suffered a slight concussion, Ben said. Logan, who is now 11, shattered his right ankle and has had two surgeries followed by intense physical therapy. Ben said he is re-learning how to correctly walk on his right foot. Ben suffered a broken collar bone in the crash. He recalls refusing pain killers so that he could make proper decisions for his family’s care. “I got about two hours of sleep every night for the first couple weeks.” Ben said that he still can’t lift over 30 pounds due to the injury.

Ben, who is an IT specialist for DTE Energy in Detroit, said his employer has been extremely supportive throughout the ordeal. He and his family are also thankful for the community’s support through donations on their Go Fund Me page, which has raised over $32,000 so far.

Connor’s first month of care cost $768,000, he said. The family has medical insurance, he said, but the reimbursement process takes months. There are many expenses the family has to deal with, including Ben’s inability to work for an extended period of time due to his injury.

The semi truck driver, 26-year-old Jonathan Ashley of Scottville, faces a misdemeanor charge of a moving violation causing serious injury. A pretrial in 78th District Court occurred Tuesday, Jan. 3, but nothing was resolved as a far as a plea agreement, said Oceana County Prosecutor Joseph Bizon. A new court date has not yet been scheduled. The maximum penalty Ashley faces is 93 days in jail and/or $500 in fines. He could also lose his commercial driver’s license (CDL), but that will be up to the Secretary of State to determine, he said.

“Justice would be served if he is not allowed to ever drive again,” Ben said. “The safety of society depends on if this guy doesn’t get behind the wheel again.”

“Expending a great deal of energy” with anger towards Ashley “is not constructive,” Ben said. “My wife still harbors a great deal of anger.”

“He didn’t hit his brakes until the first impact, which tells me he wasn’t looking,” Ben said. His father owned a trucking company, so Ben has been around semi trucks most of his life. “You have to be looking a half mile ahead, because it’s going to take forever to stop.”

Ashley was initially charged with a misdemeanor, but it was later upgraded to a felony. Ben said he provided testimony during the felony hearing. Judge H. Kevin Drake ruled that the specific element of “willful and wanton recklessness” was not proven, and therefore Ashley is currently charged with a misdemeanor.

The semi also struck and injured Jerrine Marie Forrest, 34, of Greensburg, Pennsylvania, who was driving a separate car.

For more info on Connor’s progress, visit the Facebook page, Connor our little Super Hero.

Ben amazingly maintains a positive attitude and a contagious sense of humor. “It’s important to maintain perspective,” he said. He lives by the insightful and humorous words of his grandfather: “Don’t sweat the petty things, and don’t pet the sweaty things.”

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