REACH Stories

Nate Morris

Facing the Future

Nate Morris

“Because of REACH…well…they’re the only reason I’m alive,” says 22-year old Nate Morris. He just kind of wishes he could remember that helicopter ride, since it was his first. The trade-off is that he also doesn’t remember the horrible accident that gashed his head open, injured his brain and severed a nerve, paralyzing the left side of his face.

Nate says, “I remember about two to three hours before the accident, and then I don’t remember anything until two weeks later. For all I know, I could have been vacationing in Europe.”

Nate and his family were out boating. Nate was on the inner tube. Nate’s mom, Cara, recalls, “They weren’t messing around or even going that fast, but it got a little windy.” Suddenly the inner tube went airborne, smashing Nate into the levee’s concrete blocks, leaving him unconscious and bleeding badly.

The fire department responded by boat, but it was quickly obvious that Nate needed REACH. No one was sure if the wind was going to make landing the helicopter on the levee possible, but REACH pilot Matt Higginbotham executed a successful landing, getting Nate the help he needed in the quickest manner possible.

Flight Nurse Brian Warner prepares for a flight. Flight Nurse Brian Warner prepares for a flight.

Nate’s dad, Perry, was at his side. Cara shares, “I thought I might get hysterical, so I just stayed in the boat and prayed.” Paramedic Chris Shrader and Nurse Brian Warner prepared her son for transport. “From the time they landed on the levee to when they arrived at the hospital, the flight crew did an outstanding job.”

At Kaiser South Sacramento, the prognosis was bleak. “They said that if he did live, he’d never walk or talk again, and that he’d be in the ICU for months,” Cara recalls. Nate surprised everyone by spending just three and a half weeks in the hospital, with only the first nine days in ICU. His mom never left. “They gave me a bed. I didn’t want to miss anything.”

Because of REACH...well...they’re the only reason I’m alive.
Nate Morris, Survivor

Nate stayed on the fast track, returning to work after four months. On the one-year anniversary of his accident, he went skydiving. “I’ve always really hated heights, but for some reason, I wasn’t scared at all,” he says.

The left side of Nate’s face remains paralyzed, so doctors recently performed a surgery intended to use a portion of a nerve in Nate’s tongue to restimulate the damaged facial nerve. Although it may take up to a year to see major results, Nate reported subtle improvements within weeks.

Looking back, Nate says, “I learned the obvious lesson: Don’t take a day for granted. I was 21 years old, thinking I wasn’t going to die until I was 90 or 100, and now I realize you just never really know.”

“It’s truly a miracle that Nathan is doing as well as he is,” says Cara. “I can’t thank the REACH crew enough. They’re the reason he’s still here.”

Nate with his parents who are so grateful he's still in their lives. Nate with his parents who are so grateful he's still in their lives.
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