Track star Sean English doesn't have time for pity or anger.
The heroic University of Detroit Jesuit teen who lost his foot after stopping on the side of a highway last month to assist six crash victims has plans.
"Oh, I will run again," the resilient 16-year-old said Monday, noting he's got a lot of people pulling for him. "It's hard to sit down on the ground and cry and mope when people are saying, 'You got this.' "
For the first time since the April 2 incident, Sean and his family discussed the impact the crash has had on their lives during a news conference Monday at Henry Ford Hospital, where Sean has undergone six surgeries after suffering a broken pelvis and broken legs. He was discharged from the hospital April 21, but still has not gone home yet as he is in rehab at another facility. He is undergoing physical therapy three hours a day, five days a week. He will eventually be fitted with a prosthetic for his right leg, which was amputated below the knee.
"It is a tough process, but I'm moving forward, day by day," Sean said. "I have no regrets."
His father, Sean English, who was with Sean on the day of the accident, echoed his son's sentiments. He said his family has always believed in helping others. So when he, his wife and son — who were on their way to a church for a school event on the day of the accident — saw a flipped-over vehicle on the side of the road, they did what came natural.
"For us to stop — it's what we do," said English, who hopes others take this message away from his family's harrowing ordeal:
"Do something extraordinary," English said. "Find someone you don't normally interact with and do something (for them). ... It can be very simple. ... Keep (Sean's) legacy alive."
For now, Sean is focused on healing and running again. As friends have noted, Sean has faced setbacks before. But he persevered and became stronger. For example, injuries plagued Sean's freshman season, to the point where he once didn't finish a race. But he went on to become the best runner on the track team, and one of top sophomores in the state less than a year later.
Before the accident, Sean had hopes for a running scholarship at Purdue University — his beloved university of choice. He's not giving up that dream.
"You never know," he said Monday, proudly wearing his Purdue ball cap and a UD High T-shirt. In his typical Irish-humor fashion, he joked with the news media about his recovery. When one reporter asked him to "walk us through" the recovery process, he quipped: "I won't walk you through it."
The room erupted in laughter. Then Sean explained how he can now bend a knee, when he couldn't before. And "I can do anything with my arms," he said, noting he still has pain, but not as much.
"I just gotta keep going," said Sean, stressing that he's grateful to be alive and that there are others who "have it worse than me."
"There are people smiling who don't have arms and legs," said Sean, who struggled to contain the tears as he talked about the man he credits with saving his life: Michigan State Trooper Patrick Arena, who used a tourniquet at the scene of the crash.
"Trooper Patrick Arena — he’s the reason I’m talking today," the Northville teen said. "I could have bled to death, but he saved my life. And I am so very grateful for that."
To date, no criminal charges have been filed in the accident.
Sean was on his way to sing for a mother-son senior mass at Saints Peter and Paul Jesuit Church in Detroit on the day of the accident. None of the teens in the flipped-over Jeep was seriously injured. One of those teens has since reached out to Sean and posted a fund-raiser for him two weeks ago.
Among the victims is Keith Martin, the 17-year-old Southgate driver whose car crashed into the good Samaritans. He was on life support and intensive care for many days after the accident. Family says he is now walking and in physical therapy at a rehab center.
According to police and family, Keith came around a bend and was blindsided by the flipped-over SUV that had landed in a highway lane. He tried to avoid hitting the Jeep but couldn't, family said.
"The power of prayer was huge," Keith's aunt, Yvonne Razo, told the Free Press on Monday. "This was a miracle."
Keith's uncle, Steve Toth, said in the days following the accident that Keith's family got a much-needed morale boost in the days after the crash when Sean's parents came to visit Keith and his family in his hospital room.
"They sat and talked and hugged and cried," Toth said. "It's such a relief that there's no hate."
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