LAGRANGE — Maybe it was the nursing staff that quickly became like family. Maybe it was the gaggle of teenagers surrounding his bed each day during their summer break.
Regardless of the reason, Kyle Delligatti spoke Monday for the first time since a February car crash. It was a voice his family thought they might never hear again.
“There are no words to even describe how I felt,” Kyle's mother, Wendy Murray, said.
Kyle's family and friends have waited bedside ever since the 17-year-old Keystone student was critically injured in a car crash on state Route 301 on Feb. 5. He was northbound near Webster Road when he lost control of his black Ford Taurus and the vehicle spun. An oncoming car struck the passenger side of Kyle's car and he was brought, unconscious and in critical condition, to MetroHealth Medical Center in Cleveland where he remained in a coma for more than a month.
In April, Kyle was moved to Keystone Pointe Health and Rehabilitation Center, where he learned how to stand again with help and to communicate, at first through blinks and then through typing on an iPad.
When he was taken back to MetroHealth in June for ongoing physical problems related to the crash, his family was told they needed to accept that the teenager might never talk or walk again.
“We all said ‘No, we’re not OK,’” Murray said. “Kyle was just depressed. He was not doing therapy very well. … He wanted to come back to Keystone.”
Kyle used his iPad to text his parents that he wanted to return home. His family listened to his request and on Monday, he was brought back to Keystone Pointe and reunited with his friends, who quickly flocked to his bedside.
It proved to be just the move he needed.
“By 5 p.m., he was talking. He knew he was home. He knew he was here,” Murray said.
Kyle's father, Shane Delligatti, said he was amazed at the improvement his son made. Kyle can talk in sentences that his father described as “light and clear.”
“You can tell what he’s saying. … It was very, very emotional. It’s just something you never thought would happen and it did,” he said.
Kyle’s case manager, Heather Taras, who said she and the nursing staff have become close with Kyle in the past few months, said she’s never seen a recovery as substantial as his.
“We thought with his prognosis that it wasn’t going to be great, but we try to be optimistic,” Taras said.
The next step, both Murray and Delligatti said, is for Kyle to start walking. Murray said Kyle wants to walk in the color run that his classmates and friends at Keystone High School are organizing for September as a benefit for the family.
“He will walk in that race … even if it’s just one step or two,” Murray said.
Though the improvement this week came as a surprise to everyone closest to Kyle, his mother attributes it in large part to the support he has had since the crash.
“They would just sit with him for hours,” Murray said of Kyle’s friends and classmates, who came to visit him at MetroHealth and Keystone Pointe. For almost six months, his friends have been spending time at his bedside, and on Monday, they were there to hear him speak.
“They were all around his bedside talking and laughing, and he just joined the conversation,” she said. “I can’t believe that one small community can bring a boy back to life.”