When 11-year-old Brendan O’Callaghan woke up in the hospital, he wasn’t sure he was awake.
He asked his father, Arnie O‘Callaghan, how to escape from the dream.
The younger O’Callaghan was on board a school bus with his teacher and classmates when the bus crashed. Brendan’s teacher and one friend were killed. Three dozen of his classmates were injured.
Brendan suffered a fractured skull, punctured lung, and broken collarbone.
He doesn’t remember the wreck or some time before it.
Brendan woke up in New Jersey’s Morristown Medical Center after the accident which happened on May 17.
The bus, carrying 38 fifth graders and 7 adults, was heading to Waterloo Village from East Brook Middle School in Paramus, New Jersey, NBC reported.
The bus driver missed her exit and decided to do an impromptu U-turn across the median. A dump truck slammed into the bus, tearing the cab off and ripping the rest of the body from the chassis.
Brendan remembers none of that. He has nightmares and isn’t always sure when he is awake. All he knows for sure is that he is foggy-headed and in a lot of pain.
“He feels like he’s in a bad dream,” his father told the New York Post. “My son has no recollection—he asks if he missed the trip to Waterloo Village.”
A Bright Light in a Dark Place
Brendan O’Callaghan can remember some things of his life before the accident. He can remember playing hockey—he is a goalie with a team in the Paramus youth league. He can recall that the New York Rangers are his favorite team, and that Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist is his personal hero.
“Hockey is his passion,” Arnie O’Callaghan said of his son, NBC reported.
On May 19, the young hockey fan smiled for the first time since his accident. What prompted his joy was a surprise delivery which came directly to his room in the hospital.
The package came with a card. The card bore the message, “You’re in our thoughts and our prayers. Best wishes, the New York Rangers.”
Inside the package was a goalie’s stick—signed by Henrik Lundqvist.
“It was the look on (my) son’s face when he received it, it enlightened everyone,” O’Callaghan told NJ.com. “It was a light of hope.”
Brendan faces a long road back. He is in a lot of pain, and on medication to make it tolerable. As with most concussion victims, he doesn’t recall the incident, nor the immediate time before it.
Brendan’s parents know that when he is clear-headed for longer spans of time, they will have to tell him what happened. Now, when he is not dazed, he is frightened and confused.
“He hasn’t really woken up to reality, we’re trying a little at a time, telling him your friends are here,” Arnie O’Callaghan told NJ.com. “He wakes up and he’s very angry and he’s trying to rip everything off and scared.”
Getting the hockey stick from his hero brought Brendan to the clearest state of mind he has had since the accident, his father posted on Facebook.
“This made his day seem so much more brighter for him the most alert I’ve seen him,” O’Callaghan posted.
“I know inside he felt realism for the first time.”