Survivors of Calgary bobsled-track crash are healing slowly, pastor says

Mark Lyons, Caleb Hettinga and David Carr face extensive surgeries and emotional healing following the accident that killed twins Evan and Jordan Caldwell.

Mark Lyons, Caleb Hettinga and David Carr face extensive surgeries and emotional healing

Pastor Quinn Davis of the Rocky Mountain Calvary Chapel said the survivors of the bobsled-track crash at Canada Olympic Park have a long road to recovery. (CBC)

Mark Lyons is out of the hospital and starting to talk to his family.

At home, David Carr is working hard with occupational therapists. And Caleb Hettinga is devoting himself to physical therapy at the hospital.

They're small steps, but to the friends and family of these three boys, they're miracles.

Mark, David and Caleb are three of the six people who survived a fatal bobsled-track accident earlier this month. Their friends, twins Evan and Jordan Caldwell, died in the crash.

Though the road to recovery will require extensive surgeries, dental care and emotional healing, Pastor Quinn Davis said the boys are doing well.

"I was there the first morning when the accident took place and saw the situation firsthand," said Davis.

"It truly is, from my perspective as a pastor, an absolute miracle of where they are today."

From left to right: Evan Caldwell, Mark Lyons, David Carr, Danny Spalding, Caleb Hettinga and Jordan Caldwell. They were involved in an after-hours toboggan joy-ride down the bobsled track at Canada Olympic Park. Twins Evan and Jordan Caldwell died in the crash. (Facebook/Westmount Charter School )

Five of the eight teens involved attended the Rocky Mountain Calvary Chapel, including the Caldwell twins.

The other three boys — Danny Spalding and brothers Eric and Wilson Schultz — sustained less serious injuries.

The eight young men went down the bobsled run on tobaggans after hours — and collided with a barrier that had been placed part way down the track.

Slow steps to recovery

Both Mark and David have been released from hospital and are doing as well as can be hoped, Davis said.

David sustained injuries to his head, neck and mouth. He requires oral surgery for reconstruction and the extent of the damage to his brain is unknown. 

"One of the major challenges is his right side, he's struggling with his entire right side," said Davis.

"The family is definitely concerned."

Mark has undergone "serious" facial reconstruction and is starting to communicate, but he has a damaged nerve in his face.

"In the early stages, the appearance of Mark was really challenging, the infliction that he had received from this accident," said Davis. "But he's healed up really well."

Back at the hospital, Davis said Caleb is working hard with physical therapists, despite having to wear a halo — he fractured the base of his skull. Caleb, who lost an eye in the accident, has already undergone one major surgery and will require a second one.

"He really wants to stay active and exercise so at the present time he's doing that with the physical therapists at the hospital," said Davis. "He goes to the gym and he walks and he's trying to gain his stability and his balance."

"It gives him something to tangibly reach for while internally he's still healing," he added.

Flowers are placed on a fence near the start area for the bobsled track after Saturday's incident on the track that left two teenagers dead and six injured at Canada Olympic Park in Calgary, Alberta on Sunday, Feb. 7, 2016. (Larry MacDougal/Canadian Press)

Holding onto faith

And while the physical healing is well underway, Davis said the three boys, their families and the family of the Caldwell twins will grapple for a long time with the emotional healing.

"The journey is so long for this type of recovery because externally, you can look wonderful, but there's so much internally that still has to be healed," Davis said.

He said the boys faith in God and devotion to the church has helped everyone remain strong. 

The Caldwell family has also set up a trust fund to help cover the medical costs of the survivors.

"Their communities have come around them in such strong ways," said Davis.


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