Graduation night is usually a time for celebration and cheer. For Jon Coffin and his family, however, it turned out to be a nightmare.
No one knows exactly what happened, because the only witness to the accident was Jon himself, and he has no memory of the event.
Jon was out celebrating with friends on June 1, 2013, the night of his high-school graduation. He was dropped off at the home of his mother, Christine, in Greenville, Del., around 2 a.m., and then he called a friend to ask for another ride to his father’s house in Landenberg, Pa. His friend was late, so he started walking and planned to meet his friend along the way.
The next morning Jon was missing. He was found later that day at Red Clay Creek, off of Route 48, by two fishermen. He was motionless and barely conscious. The fishermen called his mother, who immediately called an ambulance and had him rushed to Christiana Hospital.
Somehow, Jon had been knocked over the highway guard rail and had plummeted approximately 25 to 30 feet into the ravine below. He had broken his neck and nose, and sustained a traumatic brain injury.
Jon spent the next five days in the intensive-care unit at Christiana Hospital. He slept most of the time, while his family looked on anxiously.
“This was an incredibly hard time for us all,” said Christine. “Looking back, it’s amazing how accommodating the hospital staff was. I remember one night when my husband, my daughter and I were all there with Jon until very late. Technically you are only allowed one overnight visitor in those situations, but they found room for all three of us.”
On Friday, June 7, Jon was moved to the inpatient Center for Rehabilitation at Wilmington Hospital. There he began the rehabilitation process in earnest. He required speech therapy, occupational therapy and physical therapy.
“This was a major ‘holy cow’ moment for all of us,” said Christine. “Witnessing Jon struggle with the simplest things was very hard. He was frustrated, but the staff did a great job of explaining what was going on, what work would need to be done, and encouraging him.”
A week later Jon was discharged to his home but continued going to Wilmington Hospital for rehabilitation three times per week. Throughout July and early August, John worked hard to regain his mobility, speech and mental acuity.
“We were worried at first, because John was supposed to go off to college at the end of the summer. He was already enrolled at the University of Arizona. We thought we might have to talk with the administration to get him some help — extended test-taking times, stuff like that. But he got it all back before we left, finishing up therapy in early August.”
Jon is now thriving at the University of Arizona, where he’s majoring in business.
“Those were some very humbling months,” Christine said. “But the entire experience with Christiana Care was incredibly positive. We were at our lowest point when he was in the ICU, and the staff was just great — great to him and great to us.”