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Seriously injured teen on the mend

By Staff
RECOVERING Jared Hillman stands in front of the 4-wheeler that almost caused him to lose his life in a freakish Dec. 6 accident at his home. His mother says the Lauderdale County teen-ager is making a solid recovery. Photo by Paula Merritt / The Meridian Star
By Steve Gillespie/staff writer
Jan. 3, 2002
Dec. 6, 2001, is a total blank for 15-year-old Jared Hillman, but he will never forget what happened that day.
Along with broken ribs and a broken ankle, the left side of Hillman's skull was fractured in a four-wheeler accident. He wasn't expected to live, much less be home for Christmas.
Almost a tragedy
It was suppertime on a typical Thursday afternoon at the Burcham house on Highway 495 in Meridian.
Burcham followed the screams of her 11-year-old daughter, Christina Hillman, to the driveway.
When she got to her son, she said he was unconscious and his breathing was raspy.
John Nelson, a next door neighbor heard the screams, too, and came to help. Burcham said her son regained consciousness and was combative. Nelson had to keep him still as the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Department and the Bailey Volunteer Fire Department responded to the call.
Hillman was taken to Rush Foundation Hospital. From there he was to be taken by helicopter to the University Medical Center in Jackson, but some sort of technical difficulty prevented the chopper from coming. Hillman was traveled by Metro Ambulance instead.
Recovery
Hillman was in intensive care for four days.
Originally there was talk of brain surgery, but it wasn't necessary.
His next memory skips to four days later, waking up one morning in the hospital. Someone was taking blood out of his arm and a nurse came in with a schedule for rehabilitation classes.
When he was out of the woods, humor returned to the life of Hillman's family. His mom told him he owed her a steak.
Hillman called Steak Out in Jackson.
Besides doctors, Santa Claus made rounds at the hospital, especially to see those kids who were expected to spend the holidays there. Hillman was given a "wish list" to fill out. All he wanted was to be home for Christmas.
On Dec. 20, exactly two weeks after the accident, Santa delivered.
Home again
Burcham said all the doctors, the hospitals and those who responded to the emergency were wonderful. She said strangers come up to her and ask her how Jared is doing.
Doctors said it will take 18 to 24 months for Hillman's brain to heal. Along with the double vision, which is expected to correct itself within a year, Hillman has "dizzy spells" and he said he gets headaches easily.
He practices his eye-hand coordination in as many fun ways as possible, playing different games at home. He has to play with one eye closed because of his vision.
Hillman is a ninth-grader at West Lauderdale High School. "I'm going to try and go to school but if that doesn't work good, we're probably going to home school," he said.
When he is able to carry things around, Hillman said he'll probably get in the kitchen and start cooking again, maybe a steak.

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