Saturday, December 13, 2003

Injured teen thrills town with recovery

By David Eck
Enquirer contributor

[IMAGE] Dr. Michelle Tabao (rear) watches Jared Harrell and his father, Jeff Harrell, leave Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center
(Ernest Coleman photo)
AVONDALE - Jared Harrell, the high school quarterback who suffered a life-threatening brain injury during a football game three months ago, walked out of Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center on Friday amid cheers, hugs and high-fives.

"We have been waiting for this day for three months," said Jared's dad, Jeff Harrell. "He's ready."

Jared, the lanky senior quarterback for the Lawrenceburg Tigers, doubled over and passed out with a severe brain injury during the Tigers fifth game of the season on Sept. 19. He was rushed to Children's Hospital.

Jeff described his son's first 10 days in the hospital as a "roller coaster" as Jared battled for his life.

Dr. Kerry Crone, one of the hospital's top neurosurgeons, drained blood from Jared's brain, found a bleeding artery that had been torn and repaired it. Jared was in a coma for several days and spent time in intensive care.

Two other target dates were set for Jared's release, but doctors decided he was not ready to leave. That, his father said, made Friday more special.

Wearing a black-and-orange Lawrenceburg T-shirt, the 17-year-old wriggled into his heavy Indiana University jacket and faced a throng of television cameras as he made his way to the car.

"Mom is at home waiting on him," Jeff said. "We're ready to take the next road to recovery."

Jared is able to walk and talk, but he stills needs rehabilitation. Monday, he will begin a rehabilitation regimen at the Drake Center in Hartwell.

Dr. Michelle Tabao, Jared's rehabilitation doctor, reached up and gave Jared a high-five and a hug as the teenager left the hospital.

"All kids leave an impression," Tabao said "He was a very personable kid."

The story has touched Lawrenceburg, an Ohio River community that is home to Argosy Casino, a Seagram's distillery and Tiger football. Friday was a happy day there, too.

"Everyone's been talking about it this whole week," said Glenn Crocker, Lawrenceburg High's athletic director and former football coach. "When it happened ... it took all the wind out of everybody. As time went on it just got better and better."

The school and community rallied behind the quarterback. Pee Wee football players collected donations and fans donated money. The school named Jared their homecoming king a week after he was injured.

"We're really excited for him, his family and the whole community," Crocker said. "You're just so happy today because he's coming home.

"He's alive and has been able to have progress," Crocker added. "It's just a jubilant day."


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