Student defies odds after near-death accident

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Everything we work for can be gone in a matter of seconds.

Just ask Brandon Fisher.

Fisher was on the cusp of stepping into the life he had been building, studying Engineering and Construction Management at Chico State University with a career working for Howard S. Wright Construction squared away and waiting for him.

Until the early morning of Dec. 2012.

That’s when he was struck by a driver going 48 miles per hour under the influence of drugs and alcohol.

A taxi driver behind the offending Chevy Avalanche corralled the driver into a parking lot and pinned the driver, Matthew Lambert, there while emergency services were called.

Paramedics rushed Fisher to Enloe Medical Center.

He had broken his back and neck in multiple places, fractured his hip, broke his left knee, was punctured on the side by a headlight and was identified as being at level three on the Glasgow Coma Scale.

For a moment, Fisher died.

The Glasgow Coma Scale measures the level of consciousness in victims of traumatic brain injuries.

“The truck hitting me was one death, when the paramedics came they gave me CPR and I aspirated three times. Those aren’t technically deaths, but they’re not ‘staying alive’ either,” said Fisher.

The medical personnel responsible for overseeing him had doubts as to whether Fisher would live.
On top of the damage already sustained, Fisher’s lungs were collapsing. The medical team worried doing more than intubating him would kill him, Hobbs said.

“When he was hit, they brought him in and they had to intubate him … They had the tube down his throat for a week or so before they decided that he might actually live and that he’s stable enough to take into surgery where they gave him a tracheotomy and fixed his pelvis,” said Fisher’s mother, Juline Hobbs.

Fisher survived the encounter, but his life changed forever. He required therapy in order to learn how to use his motor skills, how to eat, read, walk and drive.

His memory of everything before Dec. 8 is gone and what he knows of that time he’s either been told by family and friends, or was shown through home videos and photos.

“There’s a lot of struggles with traumatic brain injury that people don’t want to talk about,” said Hobbs.

Lambert, the man who hit Fisher, was convicted in 2014 and sentenced to serve 45 days in jail and do 500 hours of community service, according to the Chico Enterprise Record.

In spite of everything, from cheating death to having to build himself back up to where he is now, Fisher still has ways to go to rebuild all he lost that night.

“I was offered the job four days before my accident, and it was close to $70,000 a year at 21 years old,” said Fisher.

His path brings him to San Joaquin Delta College, where he’s hoping to further develop.

“He’s taking guidance classes right now, and the purpose of that is to help him with career exploration, just trying to match up the skills he has with a job that can keep his attention and that he would be happy doing for the rest of his life,” said Hobbs.

The classes have offered Fisher an insight into what he might be able to do outside of construction.

While he has desires to go back into construction, he has become divided, noting that he is not the same person he was and wonders what else he could do.

“I do want to get back into construction, but my memory of what I’ve learned and my maturity is not close to where I was and if I go back into construction I would have to redo all those years of education because I don’t remember anything, that’s why I’m kind of tempted with ‘what else do I do?’” said Fisher.