WHS senior on the mend after crash

Returning to Wenatchee from Seattle Children’s Hospital in Seattle on Oct 5, senior Eric Pottenger is in recovery after a serious one-car accident on Sept. 22 put him in intensive care for four days after he was airlifted to Harborview Medical Center. Pottenger suffered from a collapsed left lung, a broken right femur, and two slightly fractured right ribs, among other injuries.

The accident occurred on Highway 2 three miles west of Wenatchee, heading towards Cashmere around 5:40 p.m. Pottenger, who had been called in to work the night shift, was told that he wouldn’t be needed after all. He had been taking a drive before going home, a regular activity of his, when his vehicle drifted left and hit the jersey barrier at 60 mph.

“I open my eyes, and I’m lying sideways. I saw what must have been an off-duty ER responder, and he was so calm, telling me everything was going to be alright. The only thing I could say was ‘ow.’ I coughed up blood, and I blacked out after that. Then I woke up in Seattle in operation with a tube down my throat,” said Pottenger.

Roby Pottenger, Eric’s mother, received a call from the Central Washington Hospital, requesting permission to treat Eric around 7 p.m. “I didn’t originally think car crash,” said Roby.

When she arrived at the hospital, she received news of her son’s crash. “I remember asking why. Why, why, why, why? School’s supposed to start soon. He has a bright future.”

After CPR was performed, Pottenger was taken to Central Washington Hospital and then airlifted to Harborview Medical Center that night. “[The hospital staff] let us see him, his sisters, some friends, and his youth pastor. There were all these tubes… I wanted to hold him and put him in a safe little bubble, but I couldn’t. I leaned down and kissed him on the forehead and said, ‘I love you.’ He looked up at me through slit eyes and he put his thumb up,” said Roby.

Undergoing a series of surgeries, such as installing a metal rod into his right leg, Pottenger was taken out of intensive care on Sept. 25. “Good thing I was in a giant Dodge truck. It really protected me,” said Pottenger.

Upon waking up in the hospital, Eric’s condition was improving. “When they took out the breathing tube on Wednesday [Sept. 25], he could finally talk. And after hearing his voice for the first time since Sunday afternoon before he went to work, in my heart I knew he was going to be okay,” said Roby.

From that point on, Eric was in physical therapy, training with wheelchairs, crutches, and a cast for walking up stairs, a very real obstacle, as Eric lives on the third floor of an apartment building. Eric was then moved to the Seattle Children’s Hospital on Oct. 1, after receiving a cast the same day.

Eric was visited by his youth group in Seattle, who brought him large poster board get-well cards. Seniors Dave and Dawn Bender also visited him in the hospital for a few hours, bringing along a Wii to play video games. “He’s doing really awesome. He can’t wait to get out of here and get home, go to church, go to school, see his friends, and even work,” said Roby.

Eric hopes to miss only two weeks of school. His family members have noted that he has been positive and upbeat throughout his time at the hospital. “He is always so cheerful. I think he’s shaken but holding strong,” said senior and friend Chris Jackson.