A recent graduate of Upper Arlington High School is recovering after sustaining life-threatening head injuries while performing missionary work in Idaho.
Stewart Silver, an 18-year-old member of Upper Arlington’s class of 2012, was eating, talking and walking with assistance Friday, Oct. 18, just 10 days after fracturing his skull and suffering a subdural hematoma after he fell from a moving flatbed truck.
His parents, Cannon and Ariel Silver, said Oct. 18 they couldn’t express enough gratitude for the outpouring of support their family had received from people in their hometown of Upper Arlington and all points between there and the Pocatello, Idaho, hospital where their son is recovering.
“No one believed he would make it – no one,” Ariel Silver said. “We have literally felt upheld by this support and love we’ve received. Each message, each card, each email and text has lifted us.
“(Stewart) said, ‘Please thank everyone in the community for their tremendous support for me and my fellow missionary.’ He said, ‘I know I’m alive because of their support.’ “
Stewart Silver was injured Oct. 8, a week after arriving in Twin Falls, Idaho, to perform missionary work in Spanish- and English-speaking communities in the area for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
According to his parents, Stewart and a fellow elder of the church were riding in the back of a flatbed truck on their way to Oakley, Idaho, when a strong gust of wind apparently blew both of them out of the bed of the truck. Stewart fell on his head, fracturing his skull. His companion walked away with minor injuries to his elbow.
“We think Stewart was thrown off the truck backwards,” Ariel Silver said. “He hit the road pavement with the back of his skull.
“There was a fracture at the base of his skull and the force was so great it threw his brain forward.”
Ariel Stewart said she was told her son went into convulsions following the fall, but they stopped after a fellow missionary properly stabilized Stewart’s head and led a blessing over him.
Stewart was taken by ambulance to a nearby hospital before being transferred by helicopter to a specialized medical center in Pocatello, she said. There, he underwent a hemicraniectomy, a surgical procedure in which parts of his skull were removed to relieve pressure on the brain.
Stewart was kept in a medically induced coma until Oct. 13.
“It was very successful and he began breathing very well and speaking immediately,” Ariel said. “He just continues to make a very steady, very strong recovery.”
Stewart’s parents said he is well-known in the Upper Arlington community. In addition to being a National Merit Scholar, he ran cross country for Upper Arlington High School and is an Eagle Scout.
He planned to run cross country while pursuing degrees in biochemistry and neuroscience at Williams College in Williamstown, Mass.
However, his parents said, he put those plans on hold to embark on a two-year mission for his church, which included traveling to Mexico City to learn Spanish and receive training in missionary work prior to his trip to Idaho.
The Silvers hope to bring Stewart back to the Columbus area to complete his recovery, but said they aren’t sure how soon that might occur.
“He has quite a few months of rehabilitation that will need to take place in order for him to regain his cognitive abilities,” said Cannon Silver. “Right now, he needs assistants on each side to help his balance when he stands up and walks.
“He did mention he would prefer running in the (hospital) hallway to walking.”
Cannon said his family has been overwhelmed by the support it has received from well-wishers, and there has been no shortage of people offering various forms of assistance.
“People ask us what they can do to help,” Cannon said. “We tend to say two things:
“One, they can continue to pray for Stewart’s recovery, because he still has a long way to go. The other would be to reach out to other young men and women performing missionary work and speak to them and listen to them.”