Chris… Accident… Severe brain injury…
Chris had been coaching at a nearby park, but a scheduling change would later require a 45-minute commute to the Jacksonville Ice and Sportsplex just south of downtown. Financially, it didn’t make a lot of sense for $10 an hour. Besides, all that driving for a 16-year-old made Pam nervous. He was planning to resign that day.
But Chris never made it to work.
While he traveled north on Bartram Park Boulevard — being careful to avoid the high speeds of Interstate 95 — water was pooling on the road from what the Hemmens can only suspect was a broken sprinkler head. When Chris’ Jeep Liberty hit the slick, it hydroplaned and began to roll toward a row of neatly planted oak trees outside a new townhome development. The Jeep’s roof, and Chris’ head, crashed into a tree.
Back at home, Pam was outside pressure-washing the back patio. She came in for a glass of water and saw several missed calls from an unfamiliar number. Then Geoff called.
“All I heard was Chris… accident… severe brain injury,” she said.
The phone dropped to the floor.
First responders took Chris to the nearest emergency room, where doctors worked to stabilize him. Pam rushed out the door, leaving Sarah home with Nolan.
By the time Pam arrived at the hospital, Chris was already set to be transferred to the region’s only Level I adult and pediatric trauma center, UF Health TraumaOne.
Pam accompanied her son in the ambulance. When they arrived, Chris was whisked away and Pam was soon meeting Gazanfar Rahmathulla, MD, medical director of neurosurgery trauma at UF Health Jacksonville.