EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

New Hampshire

November 1, 2010

Teen battles back after serious crash


Chris, who was not wearing a seatbelt, suffered a serious brain injury and was in a coma for three weeks after the crash, his mother said.

Even after coming out of the coma, he remained in critical condition for several more weeks.

Chris needed surgery, a tracheotomy and was put on a ventilator to help him breathe. Because of the tracheotomy, he still can't speak, but responds to questions by blinking his eyes, indicating yes or no. He also suffered complications, including an aneurism in his aorta, a nicked colon during a medical procedure, and a bacterial infection that delayed his recovery.

But as Chris undergoes his physical therapy each day at Northeast Rehab, his mother said, his long-term prognosis is good. But doctors said they still don't know if he will make a full recovery. The ordeal has been tough on the entire family, including his 11-year-old sister, Jeni, who was cared for by her maternal grandfather, Richard Reynolds, while DePietro spent countless hours near her son in the hospital.

His mother said she is thankful for the support the family has received. She said Chris has received a lot of cards from fellow Timberlane students, who are wearing "Love for Chris" wristbands in his honor.

"He has friends everywhere," she said.

Principal Don Woodworth has said Chris is very popular at Timberlane and a talented member of the school's music and drama programs.

Both DePietro and Baldwin said they hope his accident sends a message to other young drivers that they can never be too careful when behind the wheel.

An accident reconstruction report revealed that Chris somehow became distracted while driving and didn't even have time to hit the brake before hitting the tree, slamming his head. There were no skid marks and when Chris tried to quickly steer the car away from the tree, it was too late, Baldwin said.

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