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Gnarly: A teenager works through PTSD after life-changing experience

Patrick Patton in the WYSO Studio
Basim Blunt
Patrick Patton in the WYSO Studio

In this season premiere of Dayton Youth Radio, we have a story from Centerville High School.

Patrick (Patty) Patton loves hockey, and every Saturday morning his mom drives him to practice. On one of those morning drives, something happened that would change Patty's life in a big way.

Please note that this story has a description of severe physical trauma.

Patty Patton: My name is Patrick Patton and I'm a senior at Centerville High School. I live with my mom, Jennifer, and my dad, Kern.

I play hockey and have been doing so for the majority of my life. Going to the ice rink early in the morning was one of my favorite feelings and still is one of my favorite feelings. That morning I brought a blanket with me for some reason. I don't really know, but that blanket was very cozy. I remember putting my gray shorts on and my training shirt and stumbling my way to the car.

We took off down East Franklin Street. I pretty much passed out right after that because, you know, I'm a teenager at 5:30 AM in the morning.

My first memory after being woken up was my car slowing down. I look over and ask my mom, 'Hey, why are we stopping'? She responded, 'because someone in front of us just hit a deer.'

All I could see outside of my car window was a dead deer and a car with its front bumper absolutely destroyed. I could see a man looking over his now destroyed front bumper, and there was a tad bit of smoke coming from his car.

My mom called the police, and being a social butterfly, I got out and talked to the guy. His name was Jake. I thought maybe he might have been in college. He was wearing his Pepsi work jumpsuit.

Jake: I stepped out of my car after Patrick and his mom saw me hit the deer, and they offered for me to be in their car while we waited for the police to come.

Patty: He seemed to be okay, just a little surprised about what had taken place. During our conversation, he talked a little bit about his job, and he also explained to me about his desire to join the military.

Jake: So I had to go back to my car to get my phone, to call my boss and tell him that I was going to be late for work.

I'm on the way back going to Patrick's mom's car and I was hit by a car going about 70 miles an hour on the highway.

Patty: It was a flash. I don't remember even seeing the car.

Jake: My first memory is looking down at my foot and seeing that it was completely twisted and at like a 90 degrees angle.

The leg was hanging off basically. The bone was completely shattered.

Patty: He collapsed into my arms, both legs broken, his head bloody and clutching his ribs.

Remember that blanket? Ut was used to stop the bleeding from his head.

The rest of the day was blurry and I really cannot remember much besides screaming at the 911 operator and the helicopter landing next to our car.

That day really changed my life.

You know, you see it in video games and stuff.

People were getting hit by cars and get shot and stuff.

And you think, 'Oh, if I saw that, I'd save their life and be okay.' But in reality, you're not okay. I mean, I saw someone nearly, nearly die, and I think my mind definitely was not ready to handle that. I wasn't ready to feel that guy fall into my arms with broken limbs and ribs.

I saw a part of his brain, which is kind of gory, but it's just the reality of the situation.

I think a lot of teens live life like there's no tomorrow. They do dumb things and make dumb choices.

Teens should learn to live and not take your life for granted.

Do things you want to do. Go explore. But don't go crazy to the point where you're putting your life in jeopardy every single day, every single night.

My story is really about how a young mind is not able to handle such a gory event and how PTSD can really take a toll on anybody at any age.

We did save his life, my mom and I, but...

Patty graduated in the class of 2023 from Centerville High School. Special thanks to Patty's teacher Tricia Rapoch.