Loss of a Leg is Not Keeping Trauma Survivor from Reaching High
Jacoby Richardson lost his right leg—violently torn off—after his car struck a tree and ejected him onto a concrete parking barrier. The single‐car accident occurred when his car hydroplaned as he drove home through a heavy rain and hail storm.
Paramedics rushed him to Harris Health System’s Ben Taub Hospital where doctors treated his injuries, but could not reattach his right leg. He had surgeries to repair his other leg and close off the traumatic leg amputation.
Now more than three years after his accident, Richardson and other trauma survivors—some suffering from motor vehicle accidents, work‐related injuries and incidents of violent crime— will attend Harris Health System’s Trauma Survivors Celebration on May 23. The event reunites doctors, nurses, rehabilitation staff and first‐responders with survivors who were treated in the system’s Level 1 Trauma Center of Ben Taub Hospital or the Level 3 Trauma Center at Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital.
The annual event is a way to celebrate survivor stories of perseverance amid devastating medical obstacles.
“At first, I was just upset with myself. How could I mess up when I was trying so hard? Then I noticed my right leg was missing,” Richardson recalls of his accident. “I asked a bystander to remove my belt and wrap it around my leg to stop the bleeding. Another man held my hand and said over and over, ‘It’s OK. The Lord is with you.’”
He was in the hospital for two weeks and in Harris Health’s Quentin Mease Hospital, the system’s nationally recognized rehabilitation facility, for another two weeks learning a new approach to life.
“I appreciate everything the staff did for me,” he says. “The nurses and staff are passionate about their work and very compassionate, too.”
While Richardson still faces many challenges, he struggles to understand what will come next. He’s, however, encouraged by the help he’s getting from a local nonprofit organization that will provide him a prosthetic leg. He also will attend an education program toward a new career.
“I’m going to prove how awesome one leg can be,” he says. “I’m on top and going higher.”
Like his ability to rebound after he lost his oil field job and started a new job as a tow truck driver, the 31‐year‐old is optimistic about his future. He and his family are survivors. In 2005, they relocated to Houston after Hurricane Katrina struck Louisiana. Though he was a major source of financial support for his family, he knows they’ll prevail.
Richardson offers some cautionary advice to others.
“In a city where commuting is inevitable, it’s important to keep yourself grounded,” he says. “Keep the weather conditions and your surroundings in mind.”