Injured son too far away for dad

Tim Thomas of Olathe with photos of his son Tommy. The photo at right shows the boy, 14, in an Aurora hospital after surgeons removed part of his skull because of brain injuries. Tommy Thomas was hit by a truck while riding his bicycle last month.



112812_1a_Tim_Thomas_CPT_

Tim Thomas of Olathe with photos of his son Tommy. The photo at right shows the boy, 14, in an Aurora hospital after surgeons removed part of his skull because of brain injuries. Tommy Thomas was hit by a truck while riding his bicycle last month.

QUICKREAD

Fundraising event

A benefit for Tommy Thomas is scheduled for 2 to 6 p.m. Dec. 16 at Niko’s Tavern, 303 Main St., Montrose, with live music by Kenny Brent and The Denver Express. The event will include door prizes and a potluck. For information or to donate a raffle item, call Julie Brent at 462-8238.



The boy with part of his skull cut away, lying in the Denver-area hospital bed, couldn’t possibly be Tim Thomas’ 14-year-old son, Tommy.

Tommy, a freshman at Olathe High School, doesn’t have vacant eyes or extensive brain injuries.

The son his father knows always eats a bowl of ice cream before going bed. The teenager doesn’t care much for household chores but he’s talkative, kind and generous to a fault.

Yet after Tommy was riding his bicycle and collided with a cattle truck on a Saturday afternoon last month, Tim Thomas has been forced to accept this new reality — that the boy with the empty eyes and grave injuries is his youngest son. Somehow, this is Tommy, the same happy child the single father raised since he was a year old.

As if the devastating news of the Oct. 6 crash weren’t enough, Tim Thomas has other worries.

The part-time worker at Walmart in Montrose cannot afford to purchase fuel to drive to Aurora’s Children’s Hospital to be at his son’s bedside.

“It wouldn’t be so bad if he were at St. Mary’s, but Denver…” the father said, trailing off, keeping his gaze on the photo of his son with half a skull. “Someone in that shape should have family around.”

Tommy Thomas had been receiving care at St. Mary’s Hospital for more than a month until Nov. 20.

His father visited his son there between his work shifts. During work, Tim Thomas telephoned the nurses every hour, hoping for any kind of update.

Thomas said doctors removed half of his skull because of swelling in Tommy’s brain. Surgeons will reattach his skull after the swelling subsides. Thomas has been told if Tommy survives, any kind of recovery may take a year or more.

Tommy was with a friend bicycling west on Falcon Road when he failed to yield at the stop sign at U.S. Highway 50 and ran into the tractor trailer, according to the Colorado State Patrol. The driver of the truck attempted to swerve but it was too late and Tommy collided with right side of the truck, the State Patrol said.

Tommy was wearing a new pair of DC skateboarding shoes his father had bought the day before, a $70 pair of shoes he purchased as an extra-special treat. Thomas said he typically pays no more than $20 for shoes for his son, but the boy adored these shoes and his father complied.

Thomas said the impact of the crash was so powerful his son’s new shoes were thrown 75 feet apart. Thomas scooped up the sneakers at the crash scene because he knew his son would want them when he recovered.

“It’s one of those things that happens to somebody else,” Thomas said of the family’s misfortune. “Tommy’s not even dead, but I’ve shed more tears over this. If a tear was worth a penny, this bill would be paid for.”

Since hearing about Tommy’s accident, several people have stepped forward to raise funds and offer support, his father said. An acquaintance gave Thomas a 1998 Chevrolet Prism, a vehicle which is newer and more reliable than his current car, a 1993 model.

A fund for his son has so far garnered about $600, Thomas said, but most of that money has gone to car registration and car insurance. An anonymous donor delivered five $100 bills in an envelope to him while he was working at Walmart. At other times, when people press a $10 or a $20 bill into his hand, Thomas is so overcome he ducks into a back room to cry. A benefit Dec. 16 at Niko’s Tavern in Montrose and the fund in his son’s name at the Bank of Colorado also may help out, Thomas said.

Meanwhile, Thomas is taking life a day at a time. He’s worked out a schedule with Walmart to have his weekly two or three days off in a row to travel and visit Tommy in the hospital. Tommy’s brother, Timmy, 17, will come, too. He plans to enroll in online schooling to finish his high school diploma.

Thomas said he’s unsure of his son’s medical status, since he hasn’t been to visit him for a week. He’s been told he’ll have an update with doctors when he arrives.

During a recent telephone call from hospital officials, Thomas was asked if he wanted to sign a do-not-resuscitate order.

“Why would you ever say I want a do-not resuscitate order for a 14-year-old boy?” he said. “That’s my best friend laying there.”

With only hope to cling to, Thomas said he’s been encouraged by some small movements. Once, when he wasn’t in the room, Tommy stood up with help. One other time, Thomas cracked a joke, and maybe it was his imagination, but the corners of Tommy’s mouth appeared to turn upward in a brief smile.

“I said, ‘If you don’t hurry up and come home, I’m going to eat all your ice cream,’” Thomas recalled.

The boy with part of his skull cut away, lying in the Denver-area hospital bed, couldn’t possibly be Tim Thomas’ 14-year-old son, Tommy.

Tommy, a freshman at Olathe High School, doesn’t have vacant eyes or extensive brain injuries.

The son his father knows always eats a bowl of ice cream before going bed. The teenager doesn’t care much for household chores but he’s talkative, kind and generous to a fault.

Yet after Tommy was riding his bicycle and collided with a cattle truck on a Saturday afternoon last month, Tim Thomas has been forced to accept this new reality — that the boy with the empty eyes and grave injuries is his youngest son. Somehow, this is Tommy, the same happy child the single father raised since he was a year old.

As if the devastating news of the Oct. 6 crash weren’t enough, Tim Thomas has other worries.

The part-time worker at Walmart in Montrose cannot afford to purchase fuel to drive to Aurora’s Children’s Hospital to be at his son’s bedside.

“It wouldn’t be so bad if he were at St. Mary’s, but Denver…” the father said, trailing off, keeping his gaze on the photo of his son with half a skull. “Someone in that shape should have family around.”

Tommy Thomas had been receiving care at St. Mary’s Hospital for more than a month until Nov. 20.

His father visited his son there between his work shifts. During work, Tim Thomas telephoned the nurses every hour, hoping for any kind of update.

Thomas said doctors removed half of his skull because of swelling in Tommy’s brain. Surgeons will reattach his skull after the swelling subsides. Thomas has been told if Tommy survives, any kind of recovery may take a year or more.

Tommy was with a friend bicycling west on Falcon Road when he failed to yield at the stop sign at U.S. Highway 50 and ran into the tractor trailer, according to the Colorado State Patrol. The driver of the truck attempted to swerve but it was too late and Tommy collided with right side of the truck, the State Patrol said.

Tommy was wearing a new pair of DC skateboarding shoes his father had bought the day before, a $70 pair of shoes he purchased as an extra-special treat. Thomas said he typically pays no more than $20 for shoes for his son, but the boy adored these shoes and his father complied.

Thomas said the impact of the crash was so powerful his son’s new shoes were thrown 75 feet apart. Thomas scooped up the sneakers at the crash scene because he knew his son would want them when he recovered.

“It’s one of those things that happens to somebody else,” Thomas said of the family’s misfortune. “Tommy’s not even dead, but I’ve shed more tears over this. If a tear was worth a penny, this bill would be paid for.”

Since hearing about Tommy’s accident, several people have stepped forward to raise funds and offer support, his father said. An acquaintance gave Thomas a 1998 Chevrolet Prism, a vehicle which is newer and more reliable than his current car, a 1993 model.

A fund for his son has so far garnered about $600, Thomas said, but most of that money has gone to car registration and car insurance. An anonymous donor delivered five $100 bills in an envelope to him while he was working at Walmart. At other times, when people press a $10 or a $20 bill into his hand, Thomas is so overcome he ducks into a back room to cry. A benefit Dec. 16 at Niko’s Tavern in Montrose and the fund in his son’s name at the Bank of Colorado also may help out, Thomas said.

Meanwhile, Thomas is taking life a day at a time. He’s worked out a schedule with Walmart to have his weekly two or three days off in a row to travel and visit Tommy in the hospital. Tommy’s brother, Timmy, 17, will come, too. He plans to enroll in online schooling to finish his high school diploma.

Thomas said he’s unsure of his son’s medical status, since he hasn’t been to visit him for a week. He’s been told he’ll have an update with doctors when he arrives.

During a recent telephone call from hospital officials, Thomas was asked if he wanted to sign a do-not-resuscitate order.

“Why would you ever say I want a do-not resuscitate order for a 14-year-old boy?” he said. “That’s my best friend laying there.”

With only hope to cling to, Thomas said he’s been encouraged by some small movements. Once, when he wasn’t in the room, Tommy stood up with help. One other time, Thomas cracked a joke, and maybe it was his imagination, but the corners of Tommy’s mouth appeared to turn upward in a brief smile.

“I said, ‘If you don’t hurry up and come home, I’m going to eat all your ice cream,’” Thomas recalled.



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