‘He’s been one miracle after another’: Teen recovers from traumatic brain injury, set to graduate in June

Published: May. 23, 2022 at 6:20 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Cathy and Chris Yago are counting their blessings as their 17-year-old son, Stephen, prepares to walk across the stage to get his high school diploma after nearly losing his life during a crash Sept. 17, 2021.

More than eight months ago, Chris Yago said his son was driving down a country road in Powhatan when his truck had a mechanical malfunction.

“Eventually, the truck flipped over several times, and in that process, Stephen was thrown out of the vehicle,” Chris Yago said. “It was a blessing that he was ejected because the cab of the truck was completely crushed on the driver’s side.”

At the wreck scene, a group of bystanders came over to help Stephen, including a hospice nurse.

Chris Yago said his son was ejected 50 yards from his truck when it had a mechanical malfunction.
Chris Yago said his son was ejected 50 yards from his truck when it had a mechanical malfunction.(Source;Chris Yago | Chris Yago)

“Her goal was to keep him alive long enough to see us,” said Cathy Yago. “She was certain with what she saw and with the condition he was in that he was not going to make it.”

Stephen was rushed by ambulance to Chippenham Hospital, unconscious and in critical condition.

“When he came in, he was pretty much in a comatose state,” said Chippenham Hospital Trauma Medical Director Dr. Stan Kurek. “The thing with brain injury is you can’t really predict it.”

Doctors told the Yago family that Stephen had a skull fracture, brain bruising and bleeding, and a pelvis fracture. Chris Yago said they were told Stephen’s recovery could be quick or long-term.

This period of uncertainty united Stephen’s family and friends to fill his hospital room with cards and prayers for his recovery.

One week after Stephen was admitted to the hospital, Cathy Yago said he made a turning point when he started pulling his breathing tube.

“They took the tube out, and he started breathing on his own,” Cathy Yago said.

Eventually, Stephen started making progress.

“He was getting up, and he was standing up, and he was walking around the room,” Cathy Yago said. “He’s been one miracle after another.”

Stephen’s time in the hospital was followed by several months of outpatient rehabilitation.

More than eight months after the wreck, Stephen and his family could reunite with his care team at Chippenham Hospital in front of the room where Stephen was being taken care of.

Stephen Yago reunites with his care team at Chippenham Hospital.
Stephen Yago reunites with his care team at Chippenham Hospital.(Source;NBC12 | NBC12)

“It makes it all worthwhile,” said Dr. Kurek.

Stephen will take another step in his recovery journey when he graduates from Benedictine College Preparatory on June 3.

“You never know when it’s going to be your last breath,” said Stephen.

Copyright 2022 WWBT. All rights reserved.

Send it to 12 here.

Want NBC12’s top stories in your inbox each morning? Subscribe here.