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'BACK TO NORMAL' | After horrific accident, Barry County teenager graduates

Michael Blair was involved in a single vehicle accident in November. He didn't return to school until April, before graduating in late May.

MIDDLEVILLE, Mich. — A country breeze blows through the athletic fields at Thornapple Kellogg High School, keeping student athletes cool from the sun. The spring sports season is winding down. It's a season Michael Blair wanted so badly to be a part of.

"My biggest plan was track. I was planning on going all the way to state this year, because I got to regionals last year," he said.

But Michael never got the chance to live out his senior year dream on the track at Bob White Stadium. Back on November 20, he was leaving a National Honor Society function at the school and heading back home.

"I remember texting my mom and saying, 'I'm on my way home' and getting in the truck, and that's all I remember for that day," Michael said.

Just down the road from his home, Michael's truck left the road. It went down into a ravine and hit a tree and a boulder. Michael might not remember much about that day, but his mother Wanda sure does.

"Standing at the side of the road, realizing that Michael's crash was pretty serious was a very scary situation. But at the same time, my husband and I were blessed to be able to be at his side as we were watching the Orangeville Fire Department, the EMTs, and the first responders just peel away that truck and work to save Michael's life," Wanda said.

Credit: Provided

Aeromed flew Michael to Bronson Hospital in Kalamazoo.

"We placed Michael right in God's hands. We knew there was absolutely nothing we could do as parents, which is a terrible feeling to experience," Wanda said.

Michael's injuries were extensive.

"The whole left side of my face, almost all the bones were just like pulverized pretty much. So they had to reconstruct all of this," Michael said, gesturing to his face.

 "Then my left femur was broken, and so they had to fix that too."

The road to recovery took Michael to Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital. Getting back to full strength was like a full time job.

"Every single day it was a PT, speech therapy, and OT, which is occupational therapy. It's like what you do at home during daily life," he said.

"My goal was to get home. I just wanted to get home. I wanted to get back to what I knew as normal."

Michael says his faith helped him get through all the hard times.

"I learned more to lean upon Him -- on God. That was a huge thing," he said.

Credit: Provided

Meanwhile, Michael's family turned to a social media site called Caring Bridge where people can ask for support as a loved one goes through a traumatic health journey.

"We had the community behind us. We had our church family. We had our family and friends that were loving us and praying for us, and that's when we reached out," Wanda said.

Michael first began walking with the assistance of a walker. Then he moved to two crutches, and eventually to one. A big milestone in his recovery came in April when he was able to return to school.

"I was very nervous, because I was like, 'People are going to look at me. People are going to stare.' Then I got back and I realized I need to be around people. I need to be around my friends. It's just so good," he said.

Michael was able to graduate with the Class of 2022 in late May. His mom presented him with his diploma.

"It was a beautiful moment. It's everything that Michael had worked so hard to get back to. It's amazing," Wanda said.

Michael plans to attend Grand Rapids Community College in the fall and eventually to transfer to Ferris State University for product design engineering.

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