Recovering from a head-on collision, one step at a time

ROCK ISLAND, ILLINOIS -- Less than two months after a horrific head-on collision in Bettendorf, one of the drivers involved says he's counting his blessings.

"I tell you what.  My biggest thing: I was tickled to be alive," says Bob Thompson.

Police detectives later told him how it unfolded, he says.

Both drivers suffered serious injuries and had to be airlifted to a hospital. A third driver who was involved in the accident but left the scene, was later found and has been identified, Bettendorf Police say.

"Apparently what happened was oncoming traffic pulled into my lane, doing 80 miles per hour, Thompson recounts.

"One of the first guys behind me was an off-duty fireman," Thompson was told. "He probably saved my life."

He says the front of his GMC Sierra1500 truck was torched, but he made it out without a single burn.

His body, however, was shattered. He suffered a broken kneecap, five broken ribs, his right ankle completely shattered, the rotator cuffs on both shoulders were torn and a host of other injuries.

"It shut me down," he says.

At 63, he used be active and out and about.

The accident changed the Thompson family's life. Now he spends most of his time at home, using a wheelchair to move around and working with physical therapists to help him regain strength in his muscles.

"I have to learn to walk again," he says.

Thompson says his wife Chris, a nurse, and their daughter, an occupational therapist, have helped him on his path to recovery.

For Chris Thompson, being a professional nurse brings mixed emotions.

"It’s so much different being on the other side of the bed," she says. Having a family member as be the patient gave her additional awareness as a nurse, she says.

"Sometimes you might think (something) is not that big of a deal, well it is that big of a deal for that family."

Some days are harder than others, but what keeps her positive is knowing that in seven months to a year, her husband will be walking again, she says.

Besides the medical concerns, the accident has also caused financial strain.

While grateful for the airlift that helped her husband live, it did cost about $30,000, Chris says.

"It's just now fighting with the insurance companies and because of the circumstances of the accident, right now, the responsibly is now with us."

Family and friends set up a GoFundMe page to help the Thompsons with medical expenses.

"People have been very generous," she says. The couple says many friends and former employees at a restaurant they owned have rallied around. "It's very humbling."

Even as their lives has changed, the couple continues to keep things in perspective.

"Bob being the guy that he is, Bob said, well if it had to happen, I'm glad it happened to me and not someone younger who had kids or grandkids in the car. I don't think they would have survived."

The Bettendorf Police Department is still investigating the incident and the Scott County Attorney's office will review if charges will be filed against any of the drivers. The other driver who was airlifted is also still undergoing medical treatment.

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