JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A Jacksonville man who survived a near-fatal car crash more than a decade ago has launched a mission to inspire other people with traumatic brain injuries.
Ryan Troutman was involved in a near-fatal car crash in 2007. The then-16-year-old hopped into his best friend’s new car to see live music downtown.
“On the drive home, just out of pure excitement, my best friend decided to do over 100 miles an hour over a small bridge, into a wall, and I was not wearing a seatbelt,” Troutman said.
The chaplain greeted Troutman’s parents when they arrived at the hospital. Doctors didn’t expect him to survive.
He did survive, but Troutman had to re-learn everything; his name, how to walk, how to eat.
One day, looking in the mirror at his scratches and scars, he made a promise to himself.
“I looked at myself and said ‘this is not going to be me. And this is not how my story’s going to end,’” Troutman said.
Troutman wrote and published a book about his journey, titled “Second Chance.” He found the experience so rewarding, he launched the nonprofit “Second Chance Story” to help others with traumatic brain injuries share their stories through documentaries.
“That’s what we’re all living,” Troutman said of people with TBIs. “Our second chance.”
The first documentary, profiling Michael Sellars and his father, Joe, started filming Wednesday.
“I don’t remember anything about…about that car, about anything of the wreck, nothing,” Michael Sellar said. He was 24 years old when he crashed his car in 2009.
“He had passed someone,” Joe Sellars said. “And when he got back into the other lane, for whatever reason his car yawed one way and he overcorrected and slid sideways into a concrete utility pole.”
Sellars was in a coma, followed by a persistent vegetative state. He was given a five-to-10 percent chance of waking up.
"Really just coming to grips with the fact that the world as we had known it had profoundly changed,” Joe said.
It’s been a long road for Joe and Michael, and no one can relate more than Troutman.
That’s why Troutman wants to share these stories. To give hope to others when even the smallest task seems insurmountable.
“There is somebody else out there that’s facing the same challenges that you do every single day,” Troutman said. “Here’s how I’m coping with it. Here’s how I found a way out.”
Troutman attributed his ability to start Second Chance Story to support from the community, especially Mad Men Marketing and Brooks Rehabilitation.
To learn more about or donate to Second Chance Story click here.