SIOUX FALLS, SD -
He's an All-American athlete who survived an incredible accident. And Thursday, a Hayti teenager will set out on the biggest challenge of his life.
Tyler Taschner was hunting two weeks ago when he was hit by a falling tree. It damaged the Hamlin honor student's spine and shocked his family friends.
Tyler truly is All-American. It only takes a look at the Hamlin High School senior's photos to prove it. This 4.0 student who's used to managing his team on the gridiron is now ready to begin a much bigger battle.
“He's just a strong kid, way stronger than I am and through all this you never heard him complain,” Craig Taschner, Tyler’s brother, said.
For two weeks now, Craig and his family have made this Sanford Hospital Room home, all because of a night of bow-hunting gone wrong.
The one night he happened to be there, an adjacent tree from behind him decided it was old and time to break. He heard it snap and didn't know where it was coming.
“I ducked down close to my knees. You could tell you're paralyzed at that point. I had my phone in my pocket. So I reached in for that and called my dad first. I didn't know what was happening,” Tyler said.
Then he started to call the rest of the family because he didn't know whether he was going to make it or not. But he did. He has eight broken ribs. The tree also snapped his spine and stretched his spinal cord. After surgery Tyler has no feeling below his chest.
“You can't feel your abs working but they're working. You can balance yourself. It just feels like a metal plate is up your back holding you straight,” Tyler said.
“Sitting here now, it's a tragic situation, but we're all blessed he's still with us,” Craig said.
And his brother Craig and the rest of his family aren't the only ones. For days now, classmates and friends have traveled the 100 miles from Hayti just to say hi.
“A lot of classmates, friends, people from other schools,” Craig said.
But this night is a farewell of sorts. Tomorrow the family heads to a specialty spine rehab center in Colorado. Doctors have painted a grim picture of the outcome.
“When a spine gets stretched there's not much they can do. But miracles do happen,” Tyler said.
And if anyone can maneuver through a challenge to find that miracle, Tyler can.
“It really is up to God to give him strength and healing to come back,” Craig said.
Tyler will spend about a month in the Colorado rehab center.
There are sure to be plenty of Tyler's family and friends monitoring his progress. His Caringbridge website
has more than 12,000 hits. It contains information on his progress and community fundraisers to help with medical expenses. Or, you can visit his Facebook Page
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