In December 2020, Rockport resident Preston Simpson suffered a severe brain injury in an ATV accident.
Shortly after the accident, Preston was airlifted to Driscoll Children’s Hospital by a flight crew from HALO-Flight, a nonprofit emergency air ambulance that provides helicopter medical transport services to the people of South Texas.
Nine months later, 2-year-old Preston got the chance Wednesday to visit the HALO-Flight office, tour a helicopter and meet the flight crew from the day of the accident.
“(Today) is a extremely big deal to us because last time we had seen him this close to the helicopter we didn’t know if he was going to come home,” Tyson Simpson, Preston’s father, said. “Today we’ll be able to leave here having fun instead of worrying about him.”
Since the accident, Preston has made a tremendous recovery. He was seen Wednesday running around with a huge smile on his face as he checked out every inch of a HALO-Flight helicopter.
Preston’s parents said he still struggles with speech, which is controlled by the part of the brain that he injured the most.
“When the recovery first started we thought Preston wasn’t going to be able raise his head up or walk,” Tyson said. “It’s just phenomenal how much he has progressed and how quickly. We’re hopeful that (speech) comes back soon, but other than that he’s running, climbing and doing 2-year-old things now.”
Flight Paramedic Evan Klemcke said it’s not often they get to see a patient they airlifted after they get dropped off.
“(Seeing Preston) is a true honor,” Klemcke said. “We saw his injuries and knew the possibility of a grim outcome and it’s just amazing to see him here today.”
Unlike with other patients, Klemcke and the crew made sure to track Preston’s progress, hoping to reunite with him at some point.
“We were very excited for today,” Klemcke said. “We had tracked him for a long time … but coming here to see him again today was awesome.”
Flight Nurse Keely Maxey said it warmed her heart to see Preston running around the office and it reminded her that this was the reason why HALO-Flight flies rescue flights.
“It’s great to know they have an extremely good team (at HALO-Flight),” Tyson said. “We’re extremely thankful for them and it’s really nice that they still interact with us and were able to give us a tour today.”
For updates on Preston’s progress, visit Prayers For Preston on Facebook.
Christopher Howley covers entertainment and community news in South Texas. Support more coverage like this at Caller.com/subscribe.