Mother senses her son will soon go to heaven
By KATU.com Staff
PORTLAND, Ore. - The mother of a 16-year-old boy with Down Syndrome who was struck on Interstate 5 after wandering from a Trail Blazers game over the weekend said Tuesday she senses he will die soon.
"As his mom, I sense that he will soon be going home to heaven," said a tearful Pam Vredevelt during a news conference at Legacy Emanuel Hospital, where her son, Nathan, was still listed in critical condition.
The Gresham teen suffered a severe closed head injury, multiple fractures and damage to internal organs, according to family friend Brad Ketch, who also spoke at the news conference. His condition has not changed since Sunday.
The Vredevelt's are deeply religious, and the mother said she took comfort knowing that her son will be free from the suffering he experienced in his short life, suffering that left him speechless at times and cognitively a step behind.
Still, he lived a joyful life, at times singing at the top of his lungs to Christian music with his hands raised, showing others how to really worship, she said.
"He's left his mark in this world," she said.
Teen vanished in minutes
Ketch gave the following account of what happened on the night of the accident:
The teen was watching the basketball game in an executive suite at the Rose Garden with his sister, his caregiver and other adults when he signed that he needed to use the bathroom, which is located in the suite but around a corner near the door. Apparently someone was in the bathroom at the time, and the 16-year-old decided to leave the suite through the door, which was open due to halftime, rather than wait.
His caregiver went to check on him after two or three minutes and immediately realized the teen was gone. Because it was halftime, the concourse was packed with people, and the teen could not be found. They called security within five minutes, but by that time, the teen had apparently already traveled to the first floor and left the arena.
As his caregiver and others continued to search for him, the 16-year-old was outside walking into traffic on I-5. Less than 20 minutes passed before he was struck by the two vehicles about 6:50 p.m., Ketch said.
"He's 16 years old and he's quick and he has an incredible sense of adventure," said Pam Vredevelt, who does not blame those looking after him that night for what happened. She and her husband, John, could not make the game.
Neither of the drivers who hit the teen was cited, and police planned no criminal investigation into the incident, police said.
Pam Vredevelt said Tuesday she was very sorry that the drivers were involved and that the same thing could have happened to anyone.
Family needs help
The Vredevelts do not have health insurance to pay for their son's medical care. When his father left his employer of 31 years in 2007, he continued his health insurance until the COBRA maximum of 18 months was used up. After that, four separate insurance companies denied them coverage, the family said, due to their son's preexisting Down Syndrome condition.
People can donate at any Bank of America branch to the Nathan Charles Vredevelt Trust Fund. All of the proceeds will go to the teen's medical care.
The Portland Trail Blazers also announced Tuesday that they will collect money from fans during Wednesday's game at the Rose Garden against the Indiana Pacers to help the family. The team will then match the amount raised - up to $10,000.