Tresten Williams is walking and eating again after devastating ATV crash in Ravenswood

Katelyn Waltemyer
Jackson Newspapers
Tresten Williams, who was in an ATV accident Aug. 11 is recovering from a traumatic brain injury at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

RAVENSWOOD A month ago Tresten Williams' head was wrapped in bandages and covered with electrodes he was in a coma. Now he's walking and eating Chinese food. 

Williams, a 16-year-old from Ravenswood, crashed his four-wheeler in August and was in a medically induced coma for about two weeks at J.W. Ruby Memorial Hospital in Morgantown. 

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His mother, Linda McClung, hadn't left the hospital since the accident. She had been by his side forfive weeks.

She doesn't remember the day he woke up everything's become a blur. But she remembers the moment perfectly. 

He was going to wake up, he had to, McClung thought. His eyes had been fluttering. McClung and her daughter Malori Bailes kept telling him he could wake up for days, and eventually, he listened.

There was fear in his eyes.

"He was scared," McClung said. 

Bailes said it was a traumatic day watching her brother be in pain, but it was such a good day. He was finally awake. 

He was in and out of reality for two days. One minute he'd look at McClung, say who she is, the next he'd say she was his sister Malori. That went away after a few days. 

But his memory isn't 100%. The only reason he knows he was in a four-wheeler accident is because his family has told him repeatedly, and it finally stuck. 

"That's something he does not remember and we hope he never does," McClung said. "They said that causes a lot of post-traumatic syndromes so if he never remembers that would be a good thing." 

Pushing past the fatigue

He hops from therapy session to therapy session for almost four hours every day. McClung had to reach for his schedule to remember everything he's doing. 

Williams was transferred to Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, to begin rehab Sept. 13. Every day starts with therapy. He goes from physical to occupational to speech and then to recreational therapy, which he just started feeling strong enough to participate in.

At first, McClung caught herself wondering if this would be enough for her son. But by the time he gets out of his final session, he's practically falling asleep.  

McClung goes to all of his therapy sessions. She's learned how to clean his feeding tube, how to spot seizures and has seen how hard Williams is working to gain his strength and motor skills back. 

In some sessions, Williams is covered in a layer of sweat. Sometimes he doesn't think he can accomplish the tasks, but he always pushes himself past the doubt. 

Every day ends with massage therapy. 

Sleep hasn't been pleasant for Williams since he came out of the coma. He experiences stomach pains because of his feeding tube and is bombarded with back spasms on a daily basis. 

Now his medical team is focusing on Williams gaining weight. He lost 35 pounds after the accident and has gained 10 back. 

The Jackson County Board of Education in tandem with Ravenswood High School is beginning to work with Williams on a back-to-school plan as he's recovering. 

He doesn't have difficulty remembering his friends or family members' names and recalling memories from the past, but his body has paused the ability to make new memories since the crash. 

Every year more than 1 million Americans experience a traumatic brain injury, according to the Centers for Disease Control. These injuries are twice as likely to happen to males than females. 

When it comes to community support, McClung was speechless at how Jackson County has helped the family.

"It's just been unbelievable," McClung said. 

A few days after Williams' accident, his church hosted a prayer vigil. Countless people have sent cards to Williams, and McClung said she feels the prayers working.

"I know when we get home, with our church and our community support, it's going to be OK," McClung said. 

Now, his family has organized a hot dog sale for Saturday, Sept. 25  starting at 10:30 a.m. at the Riverfront Park in Ravenswood. All proceeds will go toward Williams' medical expenses. 

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— Katelyn Waltemyer (she/her) is the General Assignment and Enterprise Reporter for Jackson Newspapers in Jackson County, West Virginia. Have a news tip on local government or education? Or a good feature? You can reach Katelyn at kwaltemyer@jacksonnewspapers.com. Follow her on Twitter @Kate_Waltemyer.