From coma to recovery
Jul 06, 2012 | 2187 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Ricky Dahill at Leland's Automotive, where he works with his dad, Leland. Lucjan Szewczyk/Press-Banner
Ricky Dahill at Leland's Automotive, where he works with his dad, Leland. Lucjan Szewczyk/Press-Banner
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Leland (left) laughs with his son Ricky Dahill who was hit by a drunken driver and almost killed eight months ago. Ricky is now working again at Leland's Automotive and driving his car. Lizzie Kay/Press-Banner
Leland (left) laughs with his son Ricky Dahill who was hit by a drunken driver and almost killed eight months ago. Ricky is now working again at Leland's Automotive and driving his car. Lizzie Kay/Press-Banner
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Eight months ago, Ricky Dahill was crossing a street in Folsom when a drunken driver ran a red light and nearly ended his life. The accident left Dahill, 25, with broken bones and head injuries so severe that doctors kept him in a coma for three weeks.

The young mechanic spent the better part of two months in medical facilities inSacramentoandSanta Cruzbefore he was finally stable enough to go home toScottsValley. But he could barely stand and couldn’t use his arms.

By the end of May, an intensive schedule of physical therapy and workouts paid off. He was able to return to work at the auto repair shop he and his father, Leland Dahill, run together.

“It was a big day,” Leland Dahill said of his son’s first day back at Leland’s Automotive inScottsValley. “I just told him ‘Hey, whenever you’re ready, come on down.’”

Nearly normal

When Ricky Dahill first returned to work, he would work half days, exercising in the mornings to build his strength.

“I work out every day — arm stretches, picking stuff up,” he said. “It gets a little easier after a couple of weeks.”

It is still difficult for him to raise his arms, which makes some jobs around the shop, such as painting vehicles, hard for him to do. But, with practice, he gets stronger every time, gets closer to fully taking his life back.

“I can’t do everything I was doing before,” Ricky Dahill said. “But, pretty soon I’ll be able to do it all the way.”

Another big step arrived three weeks ago, when he was able to get behind the wheel of his Chevy El Camino for the first time since he was injured.

“It was nice having stuff somewhat normal again,” Ricky Dahill said.

Leland and Ricky practiced driving for several days before Ricky felt ready to take to the open road.

“He knows when he can do stuff and when he can’t,” Leland Dahill said. “I know pretty soon everything’s going to be back to normal.”

It takes a village

Leland Dahill said that his son’s remarkable recovery was a team effort, with friends, family, and the community’s support all playing a part — particularly Ricky Dahill’s grandfather, who stayed with the young man for 12 weeks helping him recover.

“Our friends really helped out — the whole community really did,” Leland Dahill said. “(Ricky’s) patience has been good, and his spirits are up.”

To help with Ricky Dahill’s medical expenses — “The doctor bills are constant,” Leland Dahill said — a fundraiser is scheduled for 2 p.m. Sunday, July 22.

The Rally for Ricky will be at Malone’s Grille,4402 Scotts Valley Drive, and will feature a live and silent auction, food, music and dancing, as well as kid-friendly activities.

“Everyone’s just helped immensely,” Leland Dahill said. “I feel really lucky just to have him back.”

For information about the Rally for Ricky, call Jeanette Larkin at 247-2970. 

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