Heading back into town after picking up his stepsister on Sept. 3, junior Kyle Baxter’s whole world took a drastic turn. He hit loose dirt on a gravel road causing him to crash his 2001 Nissan Xterra. The vehicle rolled around several times before landing in a field north of 120th St. near McKelvey Rd. in Weeping Water, Neb.
Baxter, who wasn’t wearing a seat belt, was ejected from his car, resulting in critical injuries. His eight-year-old stepsister, who was wearing her seat belt, only suffered minor injuries.
The siblings were taken to University of Nebraska Medical Center (UNMC). While his stepsister was only brought in for evaluation, Baxter was treated for two broken femurs, torn intestines, internal bleeding and other injuries. Due to the severity of his injuries and excessive pain, he was put in a medically induced coma.
“I was driving from my stepmom’s, just planning on going to town or something and I drove over loose rock and that’s when my car just went sideways cause I probably over corrected it and then I flipped,” Baxter said. “I didn’t know what was happening when I woke up, I thought it was all a dream.”
Baxter was taken out of the coma on Sept. 6, but remains at UNMC so doctors can monitor his healing and help him rehabilitate.
Baxter’s mother, Brandy Kaluza was at home doing housework when she heard the news of the wreck.
“My ex-husband [Baxter’s father] called me and told me not to freak out, but that Kyle had been in a car accident and, of course as a mother, I freaked out,” Kaluza said. “I was scared, I knew that it was bad, the doctor didn’t even let me see him when I first got there.”
Kyle’s brother, freshman Conner Baxter, was at a softball game when he heard the news.
“I was checking my phone, saw that I had like three missed calls and when I figured out what happened, at first I thought it was nothing really bad, but when I figured out what happened I was really scared for him,” Conner said.
Kyle is expected to make a full recovery, though it is expected to take at least three months. Kaluza plans to take Kyle to Madonna rehabilitation hospital once he’s released from UNMC.
Besides missing out on his classes, Kyle was supposed to have multiple roles in the school’s fall play, “The 12 Huntsmen,” but is unable to due to his injuries and length of time it is going to take him to recover.
“I am actually very sad about that because I love doing theater, but accidents happen,” Kyle said.
Play director and drama teacher Jodi Hazuka was informed of the situation and knew Kyle was waiting for the day he could display his acting skills on the stage.
“I was really sad that he’s not going to be able to be in the fall play because from day one of class he’s been asking ‘when’s auditions, what can I do for the play, I hope I get this part,’ and it was very sad knowing that he’s been looking forward to this,” Hazuka said.
While Kyle is missing a chunk of his junior year, he has learned a big lesson from this experience and plans to “drive safer, always wear a seat belt and not have anymore crashes.”
This story was originally published on The Orator on October 4, 2019.