The story of how Levi Sallee suffered a traumatic brain injury is tragic, but the story of how he is recovering and how family and friends have rallied to his support is inspirational.

Just before Labor Day in 2016, Levi headed home with a friend from soccer practice, the passenger in a car his classmate was driving. On County Road 1000N, near the Bartholomew-Jennings counties line, the car hit a raised part of the road where it intersects with North County Road 700W, causing it to flip five times, break a telephone pole in half, hit a tree and come to rest upside down.

Levi suffered a fractured skull, a brain contusion, head lacerations, a collapsed lung, two bruised lungs, a lacerated liver and two broken ribs.

He was in a coma the first two weeks of his hospitalization. It took nearly a month before Levi said his first word, uttering “Joshua,” his brother’s name, when asked by his parents what it was.

Many sessions of physical, occupational and speech therapy were required in his rehabilitation program. The results have been impressive, however.

Six months after the accident, Levi is back full time at Columbus Christian School for his junior year. He practiced with the basketball team this season, although he was not phsycially ready to play in games. For the most part, he is living the life he did before.

He’s the third local teen to receive a traumatic brain injury, which is tragic. But like Josh Speidel and Cameron Fathauer, Levi has made great strides with the support of many.

Ten close friends served as his aides at school, helping him get from class to class (he returned to school from his injuries in a wheelchair), carrying his bookbag and taking notes for him. Friends said many prayers for Levi, and some stayed with him at night in the hospital so his mother could get rest at a nearby hotel. Friends also helped the Sallee family by doing yardwork and chores at their house, and by providing meals.

The friends who helped Levi and his parents are yet another example of how this community sticks together. When Speidel and Fathauer suffered their brain injuries, many people in the community also stepped up to help.

No one would wish to experience what Levi did, because he has had a long, challenging recovery. But anyone facing a tough medical situation could use Levi’s story as a source of hope and motivation.