Before his accident, Kyle Dornan was not one to believe in the power of prayer.
But after surviving an accident with a train, there is no doubt in his mind the prayers from family, friends and strangers are what pulled him through.
“Something that has really kind of changed in me is the belief in prayer,” he said. “I can’t deny that with the amount of people praying, it must have made a major difference.”
Dornan, 22, of Morris, was struck by a train in the early morning hours of June 25. He broke his femur in two places, his hip, his pelvis, his left ulna in two places, and he had tearing in his small intestine.
He spent that night watching the Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup Championship over drinks with friends at some of the bars in downtown Morris.
Instead of leaving after the celebrating with his group of friends wrapped up, he decided to continue drinking at another person’s house — a bad decision on his part, he said.
The last thing he remembers is standing on the porch and saying he was going to go home.
If he could have changed it, he said, “I would have stayed with the friends I was there with. I would have slept (on his friend’s) couch or gotten a ride home. I don’t know what compelled me to go there,” said Dornan.
Being on another side of town he normally does not hang out at, Dornan was walking home on a different path than he normally takes and he ended up at the railroad tracks near Grant Street.
He doesn’t remember being there, but thinks he must have stopped to take a rest at the tracks and fell asleep.
When a freight train came by, its “pilot” — or what is also sometimes called a “cowcatcher” — scooped him up and catapulted him. The pilot looks like a plow in front of the train and is meant to deflect obstacles on the tracks.
Morris Fire Chief Tracey Steffes said then that Dornan was conscious during his transport to Morris Hospital, but Dornan does not remember any of that. He was transported to Loyola University Medical Center, where he stayed for 17 days.
Dornan underwent four surgeries and received more than 150 stitches.
“But he came home with no casts and no stitches,” said his sister, Brea Owensby, with whom Dornan is staying in Coal City while he recovers.
He has full range of motion, it’s just a matter or rebuilding his muscles so he can begin physical therapy, which is expected to take about three months. He is doing a long list of exercises at home to rebuild his muscles.
“But I’m hoping to beat that,” he said. “I’ve been recovering rapidly it seems, even the doctors are impressed. “
When Dornan’s family was called in the early morning hours that day, they headed straight to Loyola, where they waited from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. before they could see him.
He was in surgery much longer than expected because they found the tear in his small intestine, said Owensby. When he got out of surgery, he wanted to know who was at the hospital.
“He wanted to hear who was there to see him and he didn’t want to take any medications until he saw everyone,” she said.
Dornan has a large family and at least one family member was with him every hour. He had many friends visit during his time there as well.
“The support from my family has been overwhelming,” he said. “It keeps it fresh in your mind that you never know what is going to happen. Nothing cheers you up more than people coming to visit.”
The prayers, support and well-wishes have come from all over.
“I don’t think we could ever thank everyone enough. They have reached out from everywhere,” said Owensby. “It’s amazing what social media can do.”
Prior to his accident, Dornan was working full time at Morris Country Club as a cook and was scheduled to start taking a class a Joliet Junior College. But since he physically cannot work right now, he cannot pay for his college courses.
Dornan’s family is planning a benefit in his name to raise funds for his medical and living expenses while he is recovering. They are tentatively planning the event for November at the Morris Country Club.
A bank account in the name of Kyle Dornan is being set up at Mazon State Bank for anyone who might want to donate. The family is also looking for raffle items for the benefit.
For more information on the benefit or to donate, call Dornan’s mother, Johna Countryman, at (815) 207-0787.