Des Allemands man struggles to regain memory after ATV crash
Richard Crochet poses with family members while rehabbing from a severe injury he suffered in an ATV crash.
Crochet, 29, was enjoying time off from his job as a plant operator by riding four-wheelers in Des Allemands with his brother, Todd. Then the unthinkable happened. By some freak occurrence, mechanical failure caused Crochet’s four-wheeler to get stuck in top gear and he ran straight into a concrete pillar supporting the Des Allemands Bridge.
His face slammed into the bridge and Crochet was knocked unconscious. He was not wearing a helmet, which he regrets to this day.
The situation was so dire that Crochet was airlifted to University Hospital in New Orleans and rushed in front of neurologists and a brain specialist.
In addition to a fractured neck and face, doctors discovered that Crochet’s brain was bleeding. A shunt was inserted into his head to drain fluid.
Wendy Palmer, Crochet’s sister, said enough fluids were drained from Crochet to prevent further brain damage.
Crochet awoke a day after the crash, but with no memory of what had happened and no idea of where he was he became aggressive.
“About 24 hours afterward when he came to he got up and pulled everything out,’ she said. “Although he had no movement in his right arm, he is real strong and he had to be restrained to the bed.”
It became clear Crochet would have to be sedated and put into a medically induced coma until he could be further stabilized. While under sedation, Crochet went through a procedure to stabilize his facial bones. Plastic surgeons inserted plates into the palate of his mouth and around his eye socket to hold together the facial bones that had been fractured in the crash. His jaw was also wired shut.
For nearly four weeks following the incident, Crochet was left in a comatose state. On April 30 the coma was lifted and Crochet was able to communicate for the first time since the accident.
Palmer said it was difficult at first.
“He had a lot of confusion…he knew everybody, but he was lost in time. In his long-term memory he was stuck back five years ago,” she said. “All of his short-term memory was gone. He thought his nephews and nieces were all five years younger.”
On May 7 Crochet was transferred to Touro where he began therapy. A big part of his therapy was allowing him to associate with reality.
Crochet still thought that he was going to work every morning and returning to the rehab facility at night. The family had to show him that he had grown a beard during his hospital stay to convince him otherwise.
“After realizing he was not allowed to wear a beard at work, he would finally agree with us,” Palmer said. “The therapist there had a memory notebook they prepared that said what happened, where he was and that he had hit a pillar on a bridge.
“He read that everyday until he accepted it or believed it.”
Soon Crochet was adapting to therapy and became devoted to doing what needed to be done to get better.
Palmer said the first step was getting out of a crib like bed that protected him from falling out at night and into a regular bed, which he did within a week.
A few weeks later, Crochet was able to partially move the right side of his body. Although he still has not completely regained his eyesight, the family is happy with Crochet’s progress.
“With brain injuries you don’t know the long-term outcomes for at least a year,” Palmer said. “We are simply in awe of what God has done. When you think about the process and everything it is amazing. We can really see God’s grace throughout the entire circumstance.”
In late June the community came together for a fundraiser held at the First Assembly of God Church in Des Allemands. “He has a huge base of support,” Palmer said.
Palmer said Crochet, who is still struggling with memory loss, is currently staying with their parents until he is able to live on his own again.
“He is going to live with my parents until he can fully drive again and work again,” she said. “Will he do the same job again as a plant operator? We’re not sure yet but we are very optimistic.”
In the meantime an ongoing fundraiser is being undertaken to help out with medical expenses.
If you would like to help out you can do so by sending a donation to Wendy Palmer at: 120 Dejean St., Des Allemands, LA 70030. You can also call her at (504) 231-6743 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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