Childhood Accident Leads Town to Make a Change

Photo on 2009-10-13 at 12.16By MEGAN

It was October 11th, 2001 when 13 year old Nathan Fulk was riding his bike down Gilmore Rd. in Clarkson, NY.  This two lane residential road with no sidewalks had always been a concern in the town with children riding bicycles. Fulk had been riding with his back to oncoming traffic.  That is the last thing he remembers before being hit by a pick-up truck and being knocked unconscious.  He doesn’t remember what happened next.

After the accident, Fulk recounted his story with various witnesses and pieced together the story.  Although he had a concussion, he had woken up bleeding in a ditch with his helmut shattered beside him. Thankfully, the driver stopped and tended to the 13 year old who had been knocked into the ditch and was bleeding.  Fulk says, “I was coherent enough to tell him my name, address, and phone number.”  His mother was immediately notified and 911 was reached.

Fulk was rushed to Strong Hospital in Rochester, NY.  He had fractured his left femur.  The doctors suggested a full-body cast but instead they took two titanium rods and put them into the marrow and held the bone together.  Fulk spent one week in the hospital and was very concerned with the fact that he was going to be missing school.  He wanted to let someone know but the only number he remembered post-concussion was his ex-girlfriend.  He left a message about the accident and mentioned that he would not be in class for a while.  However, he left no name.  The girl thought it was a prank until she found out when he returned to school.

Fulk spent six months in a wheel chair and another three months on crutches.  He had to completely relearn how to walk, spending months in physical therapy.  His science teacher loved to tease him that he looked like “Tiny Tim” to the point of aggravation.  His feeble image helped the town accomplish something that had been a concern for a long time.  Fulk’s mother took him to a town meeting and there was a discussion about the safety of Gilmore Rd.  Shortly after, sidewalks were put in to reduce the risk of accidents.

Nathan Fulk is from Brockport, NY.  He is currently a 21 year old senior studying English at the University at Buffalo.

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One response to “Childhood Accident Leads Town to Make a Change

  1. Lead: 4 You have the right instinct — to start with the most exciting moment. But I would go even closer to the action. Start with him riding with his back to traffic. Put the reader in the action immediately. Then, when you have the reader hooked, you can insert the details, including the info about the road.

    Interviewing 2/3 You got the gist of the story and did a good job retelling it, but much of the emotion is missing. How did he feel in the ditch? Did he think he was going to die? What happened at the hospital? Does he remember the operation? How did he feel to sit in a wheelchair so long? Did it change his perspective on those with disabilities? How was the recovery? How did the first steps feel? What was the hardest part? Did he ever worry he would never walk again? You can’t use the answers to all these questions in your piece. But knowing the answers would color the piece and give it details/quotes that will make it memorable.

    His quote about remembering his name etc. could have been paraphrased. I would have liked to have heard how he felt. What thoughts went through his mind etc.

    Why did you include the anecdote about the ex-girlfriend. What does it say about Nathan — that he is a conscientious student? Help me understand. If it doesn’t say anything about him that is useful, leave it out.

    Grammar: 3 You can still work to make your writing sizzle by trying to use strong verbs. Also watch chronology. You want to pull the reader with you — you are the guide.
    For instance, you write:

    Fulk had been riding with his back to oncoming traffic. That is the last thing he remembers before being hit by a pick-up truck and being knocked unconscious. He doesn’t remember what happened next.

    How about saying: Fulk was riding with his back to traffic when he felt xxxx (fill in whatever he remembers) Then everything went black and he awoke bleeding in a ditch with his helmet shattered beside him and his leg xxx (you never tell me about the leg until it’s got rods in it!) The pick-up driver rushed out to help him and xxxxx.

    See how the story progresses quicker and the writing is tighter?

    Also:
    Fulk spent six months in a wheel chair and another three months on crutches. He had to completely relearn how to walk, spending months in physical therapy. His science teacher loved to tease him that he looked like “Tiny Tim” to the point of aggravation. His feeble image helped the town accomplish something that had been a concern for a long time

    This paragraph is flat. You can boost the writing to make it work better.

    For instance:

    Nathan spent six months in a wheelchair and then three more on crutches. He counted the days on a wall calendar (I just made that up, but maybe he did). Getting to school became a challenge. He had to xxxxx

    Then he had to learn to walk again. In the first session, he xxxx. the hardest part was xxx. But he knew he had to do it.

    People looked at him differently in The Chair. His science teacher called him Tiny Tim, an image he hated (WHY??)

    You get the idea.

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