Catching up with a miracle survivor
In 2010, four years ago this November, a near unspeakable tragedy befell then 10-year-old Christian Jackson. A drunk driver on Hwy 5 north of El Paso struck the car in which he was traveling along with his mother Karissa, 7-year-old sister Cydney, and a young friend from Heber Springs. As they rounded the uphill curve coming closer to Rose Bud, a pair of headlights crossed the center line and the oncoming truck struck their car on the passenger side, impacting with such massive force that it knocked the car uphill and turned it around 180 degrees.
When the car came to a stop, his mother Karissa learned, to her horror, the truck had come through the car and struck Christian directly in the head. She remembers seeing blood everywhere and, in her shock, believed her son had just been killed. What, in most circumstances, would have been a night of tragedy became the beginning of a miracle for young Christian.
Christian was flown to Little Rock from the scene where doctors were pessimistic on his chances of survival. Much of his skull had been destroyed in the accident. Flying in the face of professional opinion, however, his body found the strength to make it through the critical 72 hours and he stabilized. He stayed in ICU until December 3, when he was determined to have recovered well enough to be moved to a normal room.
The next year would be one of slow, and many times painful recovery, as he waited for his head to heal well enough for skull replacement surgery. The slightest injury to his head during this time could result in fatal blood loss or possible brain damage. With no bone separating his brain from the skin, even the simple act of cutting his hair caused pain to shoot through his recovering body.
On February 27. 2012, well over a year after the accident, Christian was finally ready for his new skull. The family waited on pins and needles during the procedure, as this was a particularly risky surgery, especially on someone so young. Christian surprised and exceeded expectations as he came through the surgery with flying colors and experienced a rapid and miraculous recovery. Within four weeks he had recovered enough to begin riding a bicycle again for the first time since the accident.
We caught up with Christian this week to find out how far he has come since we first reported his recovery 2 years ago. Although he now lives in Beebe with his mother and sister, he was in Cleburne County this week to visit his grandmother Rebecca Lee (his “Nana”) of Drasco.
“He was going to a special school and at that time he still wasn’t able to write and stuff, he had to use an iPad,” said Lee. “He was still having trouble getting the thoughts in his head translate into speech. What they call it is remapping the brain and it would be in his head and he would know it but he couldn’t say it because he couldn’t get the word to come out.”
At the time, Christian experienced memory loss resulting from the accident, especially about events that happened in the month or two before and after the accident. Much of his memory came from sight recognition.
“If he saw it, he remembered it,” said Lee. “If you told him, he didn’t remember it.”
Since those days of slower recovery, Christian is now attending regular classes and is making A’s and B’s. The education time that he lost was rapidly made up and he is now in 8th grade. His vocabulary and memory have improved dramatically, with a few hiccups here and there.
Some of Christian’s future dreams have understandably changed since the accident.
“Ever since he was really little, his entire dream was playing baseball and going to the army,” said Lee. “He did play baseball from the time he was four years old until the accident. He absolutely loved baseball and he wanted a career in the military when he got out of school. Of course the accident put an end to all of that.”
We asked Christian (now 14) what he wants to do now.
“Go to the Drasco Trading Post and work there for the rest of my life,” said Christian. “I’m going help my Nana and Papa sell motorcycle stuff for the rest of my life.”
“He’s been doing so good,” chimed in little sister Cydney who is always protective of her older brother.
Christian had a few inspirational words to close out our follow-up interview.
“It’s a miracle because Jesus and God helped me through this car accident,” said Christian. “I’m still alive and I’m glad I can run around and do all the things a boy is supposed to do. I can do all the things the doctors said I couldn’t do.”