By KEVIN CHIRI
Slidell news bureau
SLIDELL — Lyn Taylor got the phone call every mother prays she never gets.
It was close to midnight on Saturday, March 31. She and husband Ronnie had just gone to bed, and as usual, Lyn had just texted her son, wondering when he would be home.
“He never answered the text, which is unusual,” she said.
As she lay in bed, the phone rang. Ronnie remembers his wife answering, talking for a few seconds, then dropping the phone.
Their only child, 17-year-old Drew Taylor, had been in an accident—a bad accident. Traveling home from a party on a two-lane country road outside Franklinton, Drew said he was eating a hamburger while “going way too fast,” and suddenly slipped off the right side of the road.
“I overcorrected, swerved back across the road, and the truck began flipping over and over after we hit an embankment,” he recalled.
Drew doesn’t remember a lot after that, at least not until regaining his memory the next morning in the hospital. Drew and a lone friend in the truck weren’t drinking that night, but admittedly didn’t wear their seat belts before the severe accident.
Amazingly, Drew’s friend, Steven Lupor, was not seriously injured in the accident. But Drew was paralyzed from the neck down from what they later learned was trauma to his spinal cord from fragmentation of his spinal column.
“We were so blessed,” Ronnie said. “He was so fortunate that the fragments from the vertebrae didn’t cut his spinal cord. Otherwise, he probably wouldn’t have had a chance to recover.”
Drew had surgery the next morning at University Hospital in Baton Rouge, then the family chose to come to Slidell’s Ochsner Medical Center for his rehab treatment. One of the big reasons they chose Ochsner is because they possess the only “Lokomat” machine in the state.
Lokomat is a machine that provides robot-assisted walking therapy on a treadmill, that simulates walking for patients who have lost the ability to use their arms and legs.
Thanks to the rapid improvement Drew has shown, now walking again only one month after the accident, his classmates from Bowling Green High School arranged to come to Slidell last Friday night, so they could include Drew in their plans for prom that night.
Drew had already asked Mary Kate Richardson to go to prom after talking to his doctor, and getting the OK. For that matter, Mary Kate and Drew had been longtime friends until the accident, something that apparently led the young couple to become a little more serious than just friends.
Thanks to the work of classmates and parents, Drew and his friends enjoyed a BBQ dinner in the Ochsner Rehab courtyard last Friday night, followed by all the young people heading to prom in the limos that had brought them to Slidell from Franklinton.
Drew was a standout baseball and football payer at Bowling Green and said his two biggest questions after the accident were “can I walk again,” and “when can I play football?”
Drew’s father has been a paramedic and EMT for 20 years, and reacted with his professional mindset from the time he and Lyn got the phone call, then raced to the scene of the accident.
“When I saw the X-rays, I had a sigh of relief because I realized how fortunate we were,” he said. “This could have been so much more serious, but God has a plan for him and we’re so blessed.”
Family members said the accident has been a wakeup call to the young people at the school.
“He’s a walking miracle for sure,” Lyn said. “God had his hand on him, not to mention this showing the power of prayer. There is no other explanation for it.’
“I never could have imagined this kind of thing would happen to me, and I’ve learned how careful I need to be driving,” Drew said. “I didn’t just dodge a bullet with this, I dodged a missile.”
Drew is expected to go home this Friday, doctors said.