RACINE — Tressie Gillispie calls this story “a miracle.”
Her son Hunter Gillispie, a 16-year-old junior football player at Sherman High School, was walking to his father’s home in Ridgeview, on August 21, listening to music on headphones.
“I had my school clothes on and didn’t want to get them dirty so I went to cross the road in a place I don’t normally cross and I didn’t see the car,” Hunter said Friday during an interview with the Coal Valley News.
Hunter was hit by the first car on his right leg, which flipped him over and into another oncoming vehicle.
“I landed on top of the windshield of a Durango,” Hunter said. “I knew I was hurt, but I wasn’t sure how bad. I was sort of in shock.”
A family friend, Joey Ward with the local volunteer fire department, responded to the call and stayed with Hunter while his family was notified of the accident.
“When we all heard we were scared to death,” said Hunter’s mom, Tressie. “I am so glad Joey was there to hold his hand until he was transported to the hospital.”
At the hospital, Hunter received seven staples in a gash in his head and screws and pins for his broken femur bone.
“They were concerned with the breaking of the growth plate,” Tressie said. “He was in surgery for two and a half hours.”
Hunter had survived being hit by not one car, but two.
“I know God was with him,” Hunter’s mom said. “It was a miracle he was not hurt worse or killed.”
Each year, over 600 pedestrians are hit and killed by motor vehicles, according to national highway statistics.
Hunter’s football season is over for this year, but he still wanted to see his team before its opening game against Tug Valley this past Friday night.
The First Baptist Church in Racine was feeding the team before it left for the road game and Hunter attended the event and received well wishes and prayers from everyone. He also had lots of people signing his leg cast.
Pastor Anthony Pratt says the church began feeding athletes, teams and other students at the school four years ago as part of the church’s involvement in its community.
“We want to stay connected to the school and the community and do other things, like a back pack program, school supplies, clothes and other community serving efforts.”
Whitesville Baptist Church also feeds the team and does community efforts as well, according to Coach Fairchild.
“I wish I could go with them,” he said. “I was really looking forward to this season.”
Sherman Tide head coach J.D. Fairchild said Hunter was going to see time on the field as a linebacker.
“We are just glad he is going to be okay,” Fairchild said. “I also had Hunter in class and he is a really good kid. We are glad to have him as part of our team.”
Hunter said, “When I made the team last year, all the older guys were friendly to me and it was just a good team to be a part of. I was really looking forward to my junior season.”
Hunter is hoping to make a speedy recovery and at least be able to run track at the end of the school year, but will have to wait on a doctor’s clearance before he can resume physical activities.
“We will see what happens,” Hunter’s mom said. “Right now, the players have promised to carry him up the stairs to his classes at school.”
The school does not have an elevator.
Hunter was out of school for a few days, but still wears his #48 jersey and plans to attend all the games.
“I believe God has a purpose for Hunter,” his mother said.
It’s a story about how tough and solid a high school football player is — and one about a miracle for that player’s mom.
“There’s got a be a reason that I’m still alive, and I’m just going to try to be as happy as I can be,” Hunter said.
Fred Pace is an editor for Civitas Media. He can be reached at 304-369-1165, ext. 1661, in Madison; at 304-752-6950, ext. 1729 in Logan; by email at [email protected] or @fcpace62 on Twitter.