Man rebuilds life after being seriously injured when hit by a car a year ago
Benefit for Chris Caldwell set for Sunday at Ridgeway Fire Hall
ALBION – Chris Caldwell greets people with a smile and a firm handshake. He is upbeat despite a painful path to recovery after being critically injured about a year ago.
Caldwell was hit by a car on Harrison Road in Shelby on Sept. 7, 2015. The vehicle may have been going 45 miles per hour. Caldwell, 38, was hit from behind while walking on the road. His head hit the windshield and his body went flying.
First responders weren’t optimistic he would survive after he was struck that day. He was flown by Mercy Flight to Erie County Medical Center, where doctors also were grim in predicting Caldwell’s future.
His left leg was shattered and became infected. Doctors tried to save the leg but were forced to amputate it from below the knee on Sept. 25.
Caldwell, who had worked a decade as a heavy equipment operator for C.P. Ward in Rochester, was clinging for his life. He suffered a traumatic brain injury. His ribs on the left side were all broken. He had a collapsed lung. His left arm was also shattered, and he suffered other injuries, including fractured vertebrae.
His mother remembers seeing him the first time at ECMC, looking lifeless with tubes and bandages, and a worry permeating his hospital room.
She knelt by her son and told him to keep fighting, to stay alive for his two sons: Christopher, now 13; and Jackson, 9.
Caldwell’s eyes flickered open at his mother’s words. She prayed for him then, asking God for healing and for strength for the family in the days ahead.
Caldwell has rebounded, although he has a ways to go. He left the hospital on Dec.17, about 3 ½ months after the accident. He attends physical therapy three times a week in Brockport. He does daily stretches and exercises.
He remembers when he couldn’t hold a glass of water with his left hand. Now he can do push-ups.
“He’s so motivated to make progress,” said his mother, who works as a program coordinator for the advocacy program at The Arc of Orleans.
Caldwell fell twice on Monday. He was frustrated and he said it’s hard to get back up when he falls.
“It’s easier to walk standing up,” he said with a smile.
His recovery has been slowed by the brain injury. The blow to the head damaged the area of the brain that controls mobility. Caldwell is learning to walk all over again, with only one leg this time.
Caldwell grew up in Albion. He was living in his own home in Shelby when he was hit by Danielle Conrad, who was driving drunk on Sept. 7. She was sentenced in April to 1 1/3 to 4 years in state prison for vehicular assault.
In April, Caldwell suffered sepsis, a potentially life-threatening infection.
In February he was denied Social Security short-term disability benefits because officials there believed he could recover in time to be working within a year, his mother said.
She is hopeful her son will continue to make progress. She is thankful for his recovery so far.
“God has carried us,” Ida Caldwell said. “He answered our prayers. He got us through it.”
Caldwell’s friends and family have planned a fund-raiser for this Sunday from 12:30 to 5:30 p.m. at the Ridgeway Volunteer Fire Company, 11392 Ridge Rd., Medina.
There will be a basket raffle, silent auction, music and food. The benefit will go towards Caldwell’s continued medical care.