On Nov. 6, 2005, sixteen-year-old Colin Buchanan was victim to a catastrophic rollover car crash which left him permanently paralyzed from the chest down, meaning he will never walk again. The vehicle's driver was impaired and speeding. After briefly looking away from the roadway to check the clock, Alex realized he was drifting across the center line to the right and overcorrected the vehicle, driving off the left-hand side of the roadway. Alex’s car hit a driveway curb at high speed breaking off the left front wheel and going airborne. The right front wheel struck a fire hydrant. The front of the SUV dug into an embankment causing the rear of the SUV to continue to turn over the front end, rolling multiple times until it landed on its roof and slid upside-down. The left side of the vehicle where Colin was sitting was crushed.
Colin was trapped in the SUV after the left side of the vehicle collapsed on him and recalled losing feeling in his legs. The rollover caused Colin to suffer a T4‑5 fracture and dislocation, with resultant paraplegia from the breast bone down, broken collar bone, two fractured ribs and pulmonary contusion. He spent three days at Harborview Medical Center, followed by nearly two months at Seattle Children's Hospital for inpatient rehab. Doctors believe that this previously vital young man has had his life expectancy reduced by 10 to 15 years. He also attended physical therapy at Harborview Medical Center’s Comprehensive Outpatient Rehabilitation Program from January 2006 to May 2006. He received therapy from Next Steps NW, a private Spinal Cord Injury facility in Redmond and also pursues a home occupational therapy program twice a day.
The driver pled guilty to vehicular assault and was sentenced.
Prior to his life-changing, catastrophic auto accident, Colin was a healthy, active and athletic teenager. He took part in team sports and enjoyed outdoor activities. He excelled in school and worked part-time at a bike shop in Bellevue, Wash.
Colin was fitted with a cervicothoracolumbosacral orthosis brace to be worn at all times, except when in bed. After the crash, Colin experienced increased pain in his upper back and increased muscle spasticity, constantly interferes with his sleep and mobilization. Colin’s nervous system has been extensively damaged causing every muscle below his injury level to become extremely spastic. This means that not only can he not move any part of his lower body, but he has to fight against the spasticity, which regularly causes Colin to fall out of bed, when he must then fight with his legs to untangle them. He also suffered from Autonomic Dysreflexia after his injury, which is the body’s response to trauma occurring below the level of injury. This causes Colin’s blood pressure to escalate and heart rate to decrease. As a result, Colin is now on daily blood pressure medication to prevent a stroke.
Not only does Colin require assistance to walk and move freely after the car crash, but he also can no longer feel when he has to go to the bathroom – he is now on a time schedule. He now must manually remove both urine and feces from his body. Due to his extensive, life-changing injuries, Colin suffered from overwhelming depression.
Colin's medical expenses, ongoing therapy and out-patient care, equipment and medical supply costs, compounded with his parents' financial burden of on-going care, as well as needed retrofitting of their home amounted to far more than the Buchanans' insurance policy limits.