U.S. 23 Crash Survivor Shares His Story

By: Liam Martin Email
By: Liam Martin Email

ANN ARBOR -- "I would very much like to remember my last moments with my friends."

18-year-old Humphrey Petersen-Jones desperately wants to remember a moment most of us would want to forget.

"I just woke up in the hospital," he tells us from his room at the University of Michigan Medical Center. "Five people were dead; my arm, leg, back and face were all messed up, so it's very confusing at first."

On Sunday, Oct. 10, Humphrey and three of his closest friends were driving home from the MSU/U-of-M football game when their car crossed the median on U.S. 23 and struck an SUV head-on.

Moments later, Humphrey's parents got a call.

"It's something nobody wants to go through, you could say," Humphrey's father Simon tells us.

Humphrey was airlifted to U-of-M hospital, clinging to life. His spine and skull were fractured, his right eye nearly ripped from the socket by the impact.

"If I hadn't been brought to the hospital, I would definitely have bled to death," Humphrey says.

After 10 surgeries and several days of recovery, the MSU freshman had stabilized. It was time to deliver the news -- Humphrey's three best friends, all graduates of Okemos High School, and two passengers in the SUV were dead.

"At first, I just denied it," Humphrey says. "Apparently, I just said, 'No, no, no, no,' and then I just kept asking people as more and more people came to see me."

As the Okemos community mourned the losses of 19-year-old Heather Comstock, 18-year-old Matt Kolstoe, and 18-year-old Sarina Seger, Humphrey tried desperately and failed to piece together his last moments with them -- a symptom common with trauma victims.

When asked what he'd like to say to his friends if given another opportunity for a good-bye, Humphrey said, "All three of them lived life to the fullest, and they lived wonderful, wonderful lives. I don't think any of them would have regrets. I'm going to miss them every single day for the rest of my life."

As Humphrey mourns, he must also begin rehab.

Each day, four hours apiece, he walks the hallways of the hospital, struggling to rebuild strength in his shattered leg -- all the while his mother, father and girlfriend stick by his side. The one silver lining in this tragic story, Humphrey tells us, is growing closer to his family.

"I couldn't do it without their support. I would have lost hope a long time ago," he admits.

Now, he can look forward to a Nov. 2 release date, just in time for Election Day (Humphrey says he plans on heading straight for the polls once he's out).

And once he gets his body back, Humphrey says he must then turn to his mind and that haunting memory that has eluded him.

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