SHALLOTTE, N.C. (WECT) - After a horrific crash with a tractor trailer on November 11, 2020, Shallotte Police Officer Heather Newman says her two sons have made ‘miraculous’ recoveries.
It was the sort of scene that stops time for a parent.
Shane and River Mahler were in the car together when they collided with the truck.
The boys were taken to separate hospitals and then transferred to facilities prepared to further care for them.
She was told to tell River goodbye, but those words weren’t needed. He survived — as did his brother — and they began to improve.
“They expected me to have waist-down paralysis for life,” River said.
He had other plans.
His first memories of self-awareness after time in a coma and then suffering short-term memory loss from a traumatic brain injury are of being in physical therapy in the hospital as he learned how to move his body again. He learned to talk and then to walk.
“He said ‘I’m not going home in a wheelchair. I walked out of the house on November 11th and I’m going to walk back in’ and I didn’t believe that was going to happen so I was very shocked when that did,” Newman said.
River’s voice is noticeably hoarse and low, but that is expected to improve with time.
“There’s nothing that the doctors have told us is permanent and I just can’t believe that,” Newman said. “It’s a miracle.”
River’s dream of enlisting in the military after high school has changed only slightly.
Now, he’s decided he’d like to go to college first and study psychology.
As of this week, he’s back in school at West Brunswick High and will re-join JROTC.
Shane graduated and is working.
Both boys suffered traumatic brain injuries that they’ll continue to have psychological impacts from in the immediate future, but there’s help for that and they’re getting it with a new found appreciation for life.