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Back from the Brink

Posted on 22/09/2009 12:00am

Back from the brink
Salmon Arm Observer
Tue Sep 22 2009
Page: 0018
Section: Lifestyles
Byline: Martha Wickett

Progress: Teen moves ahead after critical injuries.

Five years ago life changed dramatically, and nearly ended, for Sam Way.

Today, he has reached unimagined milestones.

In October 2004, then 10, Sam was found wrapped in a sleeping bag, drugged, beside the railway tracks eight kilometres east of Sicamous, believed to have been struck by a train.

His father, who was found with him wrapped in blankets, was convicted of criminal negligence causing bodily harm and sentenced in June 2005 to six years in jail.

Sam suffered serious head injuries and remained in a coma, staying in BC Children's Hospital and Sunny Hill Health Centre for nine months. He returned to Salmon Arm but eventually went back to the Lower Mainland to stay with family and to take advantage of rehab resources there.

Sam's mother, Susan Elder, reports that Sam, now 15, just completed his first 18-hole game of golf.

"Before his accident, it was his most favourite thing. He used to practise in the rain out in the yard," she says, explaining that last fall his rehabilitation assistant started taking him to a driving range.

"His goal was to do 18 holes and he finished that a couple of weeks ago. That's a lot of walking."

When Sam returned to Salmon Arm, he was using a wheelchair. This past spring he parked it, stowing it in the basement because he doesn't plan to need it anymore, says Elder. He has a walker and a cane that he uses, but he also walks on his own, albeit sometimes a little shakily. He has lost use of his right arm and he speaks slowly, but he continues to improve.

"His rehab assistant, Trevor, is a personal trainer and has a degree in kinesiology. He's a great person for Sam to have. He takes him to the gym, bowling and lifting weights to strengthen his arms. He's had him for over a year now and has really made a big difference," Elder says. "I don't know how far he'll go, but he seems to be getting better and better."

She says his memory is quite good.

"He remembers quite a bit from before. He doesn't remember anything about the accident, but he didn't lose much memory."

Sam attends high school where he's moving towards the Grade 10 level and he takes speech therapy. His sister Sarah has just enrolled in the same high school as Sam, and his older sister Robin is entering her fourth year of university.

Over the past five years, one thing has been a constant, says Elder. Sam's sense of humour.

Asked if he's happy, she replies: "Oh yeah, he's really happy. He falls down sometimes and he'll come back with, 'Oh, I love it.' He smiles and laughs and makes a joke of it. He's so good- natured."

One of Sam's favourite pastimes is making YouTube videos, which can be found under "sammiemagoo2."

"I think he's hoping more people will sign onto his YouTube channel. That's his big thing these days, he spends a lot of time on YouTube."

Elder says she still runs into people in Salmon Arm who ask about Sam, and she remains grateful for residents' support.

"Thanks again to the community for all the help and support back then. It's definitely gone to a somewhat successful recovery for Sam."

Copyright 2009 Salmon Arm Observer