Archive for Thursday, October 5, 2006

Stunt puts former resident in ICU

October 5, 2006

Eighteen-year-old Joe White, son of Eudora resident Rose Pyle House, is in critical condition in the intensive care unit at St. Francis Health Center in Topeka after jumping from a moving car.

White's aunt, Roberta Lehmann, Eudora, said the accident occurred at about 11:45 p.m. Friday.

She said her nephew and three of his friends had attended the Washburn Rural High School homecoming football game earlier in the evening and went out afterward.

Shawnee County Sheriff Dick Barta said other passengers were videotaping White when he jumped from the backseat of a car, driven by 18-year-old Christopher Donald.

The sheriff's department is reviewing the videotape.

The day before the incident, White had seen "Jackass: Number Two," a movie where dangerous stunts are performed in front of a camera.

Barta said it was no accident.

"This was an intentional, voluntary act," Barta said. "When you do foolish things, when you make poor choices, there are consequences to those. And, unfortunately, some in this case may suffer more than others."

House said her son was alcohol impaired. His alcohol level was .116.

"He was legally drunk," she said. "But this is something we don't think Joe would have done had he not been alcohol impaired."

The driver of the vehicle was booked into jail for multiple counts, including reckless driving and giving false information at the scene of an accident. He was later released on bond.

Once the sheriff's department completes its investigation, the case will be forwarded to the Shawnee County District Attorney's office for possible formal charges.

Lehmann said her nephew hit his head on a concrete curb and had an egg-sized blood clot on his brain. In addition, she said his face was banged up, but they were not aware of any broken bones.

"This is a stupid stunt that didn't have to happen," Lehmann said. "It was a very unfortunate accident.

"I think it's important for everyone to see that not only did he affect himself, but he affected everyone else," Lehmann said. "Not only has this altered his life, but the friends that were with him.

"We've had a hard time trying to figure out why he would do this," she said. "I think he didn't think he would get hurt."

Lehmann said White came into the hospital in a coma and was on a respirator.

"It is a very humbling experience to watch someone you love have a tube in their mouth breathing for them, watching their lungs go up and down. You are so helpless."

White, a senior at Washburn Rural, has had two surgeries since the incident.

Lehmann said the first surgery on Saturday afternoon was to put a stint in to gauge the cranial pressure on his brain. He had another surgery Sunday to reduce the blood clot, which was resting around the spinal cavity.

She said before Sunday her nephew had been responding, but the level of cranial pressure continued to build -- at times as high as 40 -- and they were forced to operate. Lehmann said normal pressure levels are below 20.

After the second surgery, the doctor told the family he removed a large portion of the blood clot -- enough to make a difference. Lehmann said White's numbers were in the seven to 10 range after the second operation.

Later that evening, House said everything started to decline and her son's temperature began to soar. She said there was really no response and the family was preparing for the worst.

"Father (Norbert Lickteig) anointed him and soon after, he started rebounding," House said.

She said he really hasn't had any major set backs since Sunday night.

Lehmann said at this point the doctors are not giving any type of prognosis, but were optimistic.

She said it was not known yet whether there was any type of paralysis but that on Tuesday he was moving his left hand.

"It's going to be hour by hour; day by day," Lehmann said.

In addition, White's mother said she was encouraged Wednesday morning when he squeezed her hand and rubbed his thumb over her fingers.

"At this point, the only thing we are concerned with is Joe's recovery.

We appreciate so much the prayers, the concerns, the phone calls.

"If Joe's going to be healed, it's going to be because of all the prayers going out from all denominations," House said.

Lehmann said her nephew attended schools in Eudora through the sixth grade before moving to Topeka to live with his father.

While in Eudora, he participated in little league baseball and played on recreation basketball teams.

He is the grandson of Tom and Alberta Pyle and is one of 34 grandchildren. Family members and Eudora friends as well as Washburn Rural students and families have been making trips to the hospital to show their support.

House said there have been as many as 65 or 70 kids as well as family members in the waiting room at one time.

House said she has been touched by the support from Joe's childhood friends in Eudora, many of whom have been to the hospital in the last few days.

"Even though he's been gone from Eudora for five years, they have really fond memories of him."

She said a student at Washburn Rural made blue ribbons with the initials "JW" on them for people to wear. She said the ribbons are all over Topeka and are making their way back to Eudora through friends and family.

Her family has also been very supportive.

"What a rock the Pyle family has been," House said. "This is what we do. No matter what happens, when the chips are down, the Pyle family rallies.

"We are ever hopeful. Where there's life, there's hope and he's still got life, so we're still fighting.

"Our main concern is to get Joe better. We're going to take it day to day and make adjustments in our plans as needed."

-- 49 News reporter Jesse Fray contributed to the story. He can be reached at (785) 215-8523.

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