ST. PAUL – A teen from Hope, North Dakota is making a miraculous recovery after a car accident put him in a coma for three weeks. On Father's Day, 17-year-old Connor Flaten was driving with his sister, Josie, and niece, Lilly, after a wedding.
Conner tried crossing a highway three miles from his home, but failed to see an oncoming SUV.
It T-boned Connor’s truck on the passenger side going more than 65 miles per hour.
Josie and Lilly were ejected, and Connor was found unconscious inside the truck cab.
“I said ‘Curt, I know something is wrong’ before I even picked up the phone,” recalled Donna Flaten, Connor’s mother. “Conner was on a stretcher, Lilly was on a stretcher on the side of the road, and our daughter was sitting their crying.”
Family says police couldn’t comprehend how the two girls survived the crash with a sprained knee, road burn and a concussion between them.
But Connor went into a coma.
“Brain injuries are classified from mild to severe, and his was a severe,” said Dr. Amy Authement of Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare.
Connor was in the dark for 20 days in a Fargo hospital. And then, the light came on.
“Instantly, [Connor] said ‘hey dad how are ya?’” said Curtis Flaten, Connor’s father.
After a month spent in Fargo, Connor was transferred to Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare in St. Paul.
In one month there, he went from bed to wheelchair to walker to walking a 5k.
“It was pretty remarkable,” said Connor.
Meanwhile, back in Hope, a benefit for Connor’s family tripled the town’s population from 250 to 750.
The high school baseball team—and the team they were playing—wore jerseys with Connor’s name and number on them.
And once school started again, Mr. Popular was selected Homecoming King.
“I didn't take the crown off for a couple days,” Connor said jokingly.
Last Wednesday, the family made the trek back to St. Paul for another check-up, plus to get Connor’s pesky neck brace off.
But Connor used the trip to say thank you to those at the hospital who turned hardship into friendship.