The Keene State College student who was seriously injured in a motor vehicle crash on Route 101 Tuesday is awake and speaking and has even managed to stand briefly, his father said Saturday.
“As far as his condition and how he’s healing ... it’s been (nothing) short of a miracle,” Daniel Lachance said of his son.
Samuel Lachance, 18, of Manchester was driving a Jeep Wrangler west when he crossed the center line, striking a tractor-trailer in the opposite lane head-on, Dublin police said in a news release Tuesday evening. The impact caused the tractor-trailer’s fuel tank to rupture, causing a large fire, police said.
An eyewitness, Keene resident Nuttapon “Bank” Promploy, said Tuesday that he and a passenger from a van that was also involved in the crash pulled Lachance out of the burning Jeep.
Police later identified the passenger and driver of the van as Marc and John Cramer of Peterborough.
Daniel Lachance said Saturday he’s grateful the strangers were able to get his son out of the vehicle.
“I believe the outcome would have been completely different if there was nobody else involved,” he said.
Samuel is recovering rapidly, he said. His son has burns to his hands, face and eyes, though his hands and face are healing quickly, he said. His left hand may require a skin graft, Daniel Lachance said, but his face won’t scar. Samuel’s windpipe was burned, but the damage wasn’t as bad as doctors initially thought, and on Thursday, they took him off the ventilator.
Doctors had to remove Samuel’s spleen in emergency surgery, he said, and his son suffered some bleeding in his brain from the crash, but he is now awake and alert and managed to stand on his own Friday, despite having broken a bone in his left foot.
“To look at the pictures of the vehicle he was in, and to understand what the severity of the accident was, to have just that one fractured bone is just nothing short of miraculous,” Daniel Lachance said.
Even more encouraging, his father said, is that Samuel is speaking some, though it is unclear if he remembers the crash.
“Nobody knows right now,” he said. “ ... If he doesn’t remember, I’m OK with that because I’d rather him not live with the PTSD of reliving that moment day after day.”
Daniel Lachance said it’s also not yet clear if his son’s eyesight is damaged, and there’s not yet a timeline for his recovery. Samuel’s progress, he said, stunned doctors, who were particularly encouraged that he knew what year it was and that he remembered his girlfriend’s name.
Daniel Lachance said he was grateful for the community’s support for his family. His coworkers and customers at Spare Time Entertainment bowling alley in Manchester had raised more than $1,500 for the family, he said. Another friend set up a crowdfunding campaign, with the goal of raising $1,000. The campaign had raised about $600 as of Saturday afternoon.
On the day of the crash, Samuel was headed back to Keene State to begin the second semester of his freshman year as a graphic design major, Daniel Lachance said. And though he would have to focus on healing for now, his father said the family will do everything they can to help him return to that life.
“Our main concern is for him to actually recover and become that young 18-year-old individual that he is.”
The crowdfunding campaign for Samuel Lachance is available at gofundme.com/help-a-fellow-jeeper