Broken Bow Student Defies Odds in Return to Sports

By: Ryan Mix - Email
By: Ryan Mix - Email

June 1, 2012, is a day that forever changed the Broken Bow community. A day that Chad Christensen doesn't remember.

"I can't remember probably four weeks before and four weeks after (the accident)," Christensen said.

Returning from a basketball camp at Kearney Catholic, at approximately 3:45 p.m., tragedy struck.

"It was your worst nightmare," said Cathy Christensen, Chad's mom.

One responder to the accident says it's hard to forget the image of the scene that day.

It looked like they came out of a battle zone," Mike Bailey said, of Ansley EMS. "I can always remember the look on their faces."

Chad and nine other members of the Broken Bow boy's basketball team were in a van hit head on by a pickup truck on Highway 2.

The crash killed two coaches, 24-year-old Anthony Blum and 38-year-old Zane Harvey, and the driver of the pickup, 70-year-old Albert Sherbeck.

"It's just a tragedy and we were just scared for all the kids," Cathy said.

"Not remembering it is probably the best thing that's ever happened to me because I wouldn't want to remember any of that," Chad said.

When Cathy first got to the scene of the accident, the worst began to go through her mind.

"I thought I could see Chad, I could tell it was Chad, I could see his hips and his legs and I didn't think he'd made it."

He made it, but not without a handful of injuries. Chad suffered a collapsed lung, a torn labrum and a traumatic brain injury. He was not wearing a seat belt on impact.

This forced him to spend two weeks in ICU before being transferred to Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital in Lincoln for two months. The post concussion syndrome may have been the most difficult thing for Chad to overcome.

"I was in really deep depression four months ago, three months ago. It was really bad. About to end it bad. It was horrible," Christensen said.

A lot of things have been taken away from Chad Christensen since the accident. One thing that's remained the same? His love, passion, and ability to play the game of baseball.

After nearly a year of rehab, being forced to the sidelines for football, basketball, and track, Chad made his return to the diamond.

"His personality is positive, he always stays out there and stays positive and picks his teammates up and you can tell he loves the game and loves to play," said Ryan McAlexander, head coach of the Broken Bow baseball team. "That's a lot of fun to coach a player like that."

A four-sport varsity athlete before the accident, Chad was one of two male athletes honored this year to letter 10 times at Broken Bow.

"When we think about Chad, he represents sports. He has since he was little and he's excelled in sports since he was 3," Cathy said.

When asked how he views sports now, Chad says, "A privilege."

For Broken Bow, it's a privilege to watch their star athlete return home.


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