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Louisiana-Native Malik Johnson On the Road to Recovery Following Car Accident

This year’s Ouachita’s Madhouse on Millhaven pep rally was special. It took place close to the anniversary of the accident that injured Malik Johnson and killed his friend, seventeen year old Dillon Neal. Neal’s mother was a guest of honor and was presented with her son’s framed jersey. Johnson was also present, standing beside his teammates.

Something so simple might not have been thought possible a year ago, on November 2, 2013, when Johnson was injured and Neal was killed when a vehicle crossed the center line on Louisiana 594 and struck the car the boys were inside head on.

Neal was killed instantly and Johnson was left with a torn aorta, crushed pelvis, and several lower body injuries. Johnson would have to endure several surgeries following the accident. Pelvic fractures occur frequently in situations where individuals are subject to high forces. Motor vehicle accidents are one instance where pelvic fractures can occur. According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, pelvic fractures can be life-threatening because they cause quite a bit of bleeding. Injuries to the pelvis can impair mobility and damage nerves in the area resulting in lifestyle changes and other difficulties. It can take several months before a person who suffers a pelvis injury can walk again.

The News Star quotes Johnson as saying, “I just try not to think about it. I’m really grateful to everyone that’s supported me.”

After the accident, Johnson faced months of physical therapy just to be able to walk again. Fortunately, his friends and teammates stood by his side through the recovery process.

Johnson’s friend Anterrius ‘Petey’ Butler explained, “We grew up together so he’s already like a brother to me, but since then we’ve gotten even closer. He’s such a strong person.”

Johnson explained that he was sometimes bothered that he could no longer play football.

His accident highlights the tragedy that often follows car accidents. Victims not only face years of recovery,pain and suffering, but are often forced to make drastic lifestyle changes that forever affect their quality of life. Johnson has a community of family and friends supporting him, but frequently the toll of caring for an ailing family member following a car accident can strain families and communities.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2012, over 30,000 people were killed in car accidents. According to the World Health Organization over 1.24 million people in the world die each year on global roads. For the families and survivors of these accidents, the road to recovery is often long and arduous.

Thanks to a great deal of physical therapy Johnson has been able to walk with a crutch. Johnson’s goal is to be able to walk without a crutch. He still faces another surgery to correct an imbalance in the sizes of his legs due to a hip imbalance. During his stay in the hospital, Johnson suffered from some hip problems.

Despite his difficulties, Johnson explains that he feels “blessed” to have a supportive community.