Crash victim recovering after several surgeries

By on October 1, 2010

Youth hit by truck suffered life-threatening injuries
by Keith Beebe
SUGAR GROVE—Julio Gallegos didn’t know what to expect on Aug. 11, 2010, when he received word that his 13-year-old son Uriel had been involved in an accident while riding his bike across Route 47 in Sugar Grove.

“I was hoping that it wasn’t really serious and that Uriel just had a few broken bones or something,” said Gallegos, of Sugar Grove. “But when I got to the hospital, I knew right away that it was serious.”

Uriel was struck by a truck almost immediately after a van traveling south on Route 47 clipped the back of his bicycle and caused him to lose control. He was rushed to Provena Mercy Hospital in Aurora before being airlifted to Lutheran General Hospital in Park Ridge, Ill., where he was listed in critical condition with a collapsed lung, ruptured spleen, shattered pelvis, broken femur, extensive road rash and severe head trauma.

Although the majority of Uriel’s body was broken, his spirit remained just fine. Despite the life-threatening injuries he suffered just six weeks ago and numerous surgeries he’s undergone since the accident, Uriel is expected to make a complete recovery. He may even be walking again in a couple of months.

“(My family’s) been through a lot, but we’re seeing signs of improvement (in Uriel’s health) and taking everything day by day,” Gallegos said.

Sugar Grove Village Board trustee Melisa Taylor heard about Uriel’s accident and wasted no time providing the Gallegos family with assistance.

“Uriel’s mom, Maria, stayed by his side the entire time he was at Park General (Hospital). And Julio, who works in the West Aurora School District, was driving back and forth to the hospital while also taking care of their other three boys,” she said. “I figured their gas expenses must be huge with all of that driving, since Park General is north of O’Hare (Airport).”

Taylor opened a Castle Bank account for the Gallegos’ so that people could donate gas cards or make donations to help pay the family’s bills. She also stocked the Gallegos’ pantry with food, started a support page for him on Facebook and worked with the family’s neighbors to help gather school supplies for Uriel’s brothers.

“I was just trying to worry about the everyday life that this family didn’t have time to worry about,” Taylor said. “Uriel needed his mom and dad, so our goal was to just help them out.”

The Kaneland School District staff also made a significant effort to show its support for Uriel, working with several of his fellow students to make a poster wishing him a happy 14th birthday, which he celebrated shortly after his accident.

Uriel is currently confined to a wheelchair while he begins the arduous task of rehabilitating his legs back to full health. There’s no doubt he has a very grueling couple of months of physical therapy ahead, but considering everything he’s overcome since that fateful August afternoon, it’s easy to believe he’ll pass this test with flying colors.

“The kid is a walking miracle, and I don’t use that term lightly,” Taylor said. “He’s (14) years old and his body is very strong, but the stars really aligned for him that (August) day.”