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Student’s recovery a challenge after near-fatal crash

Published: October 14, 2011
Section: Featured


Before a Jeep Patriot swerved onto the wrong side of an upstate New York highway and collided with a GMC dump truck on a rainy July afternoon, Jordan Zides ’14 was enjoying the typical college summer—working as a counselor at Camp Echo Lake in Warrensburg before his return to Waltham for classes and soccer in the fall.

At 12:25 p.m. on July 25, life changed dramatically for Zides. Traumatic brain injuries sustained in the crash on State Route 9 left Zides unconscious and in critical condition. Speaking replaced blue-book exams as the challenging learning activity of the day. And walking in hospital hallways replaced running on the turf before the start of preseason.

“All the things you do and you take for granted every morning, he had to learn again,” Jordan’s mother, Donna Zides, said in a phone interview from the family’s Lynbrook, NY, home Thursday evening.

Jordan Zides’ progress amounts to a miracle, his father Bruce said. Doctors who at first said he would never be able to speak or walk again are now shocked at his progress.

“Two days after the accident I went to Albany to visit Jordan in the hospital to pray with his family,” Catholic Chaplain Walter Cuenin said. “At that time I thought Jordan was going to die. It was a very painful time.”

The challenge for Zides now is a short-term memory deficit, his parents said, explaining that his body has no marks from injuries and he is physically stable.

The Zides said they were amazed by the response of the Brandeis community, including Cuenin’s visit in the hospital to offer prayers of healing. President Fred Lawrence also sent hand written notes to the family and men’s soccer coach Michael Coven still calls Jordan’s father, Bruce Zides, on his cell phone nearly every day to check on his player.

The car accident is under investigation by the Warren County Sherriff’s Office; Major Shawn Lamouree, who responded to the scene of the crash in July, said he could not comment on the specifics of the accident.

“There was an indication there was a distraction but not from a cell phone,” Lamouree said.

Donna Zides too explained that she could not discuss the details of the crash.

“I can’t go into specifics,” Zides said. “It’s still being considered a criminal investigation.”

She said the accident has only reinforced what all parents tell their kids about safe driving, but added an extra element of caution.

“That yellow light, I used to go through it,” she said. “I’m not going [now].”

Following the accident, the 20-year-old New Jersey woman driving the Jeep was transported to Glen Falls Hospital with the 50-year-old man driving the dump truck, the other passenger in the Jeep and Zides. Both the Jeep driver and Zides were later transferred to the Albany Medical Center for serious injuries.

Updates on Zides’ condition are posted by his family on a website, CaringBridge.org, which has already received 65,000 hits.

“As we all have witnessed the miracle of Jordan’s continuing recovery in the past almost three months, it gives us time to be thankful for his strength and determination in making things appear as normal as possible,” Bruce Zides wrote in a blog post last weekend. “Again, while we all witnessed a miracle at miracle speeds, we sometimes need to be reminded that this is a long term affair.”