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Huron man back on track after being hit by train

Annie Zelm • Aug 30, 2010 at 8:34 AM

A month after a train ran him over, Jameson Wray still can't recall the horrific ordeal.

But that's probably for the best, his family says.

Though the pain in his right arm and the soreness in his back still lingers, Wray is rethinking his future, rather than reliving what happened.

The 21-year-old suffered a compound fracture in his right arm, and surgeons had to insert a metal plate and screws to repair it. He also had several broken ribs, internal and external injuries and a gash to his head that required 15 stitches.

He's now up and walking, recovering at his father's house and occasionally visiting friends.

In about six weeks, surgeons plan to remove the splint from his arm so he can begin physical therapy.

He's kept his job setting up events at Kalahari Resort, but he won't return to work again for a few months.

And there's one other activity he doesn't expect to do again for a long, long time, if ever.

"I can almost guarantee I won't drink liquor again," Wray said, sitting on a recliner in the basement of his father's home in Huron.

His right arm is still tightly wrapped in bandages.

"I don't even know how much I'll drink after that," Wray said. "Like I've told people, if I do drink, if I would start to get a buzz, I'll probably be scared to drink any more, because the last time I got too drunk, I got hit by a train."

The last thing Wray remembers before the July 31 accident was walking the dog to the home of his girlfriend's mother, and taking a shortcut along the railroad tracks.

It was just after midnight. He and his friends had walked those same tracks countless times.

But on this night, Wray said he'd had too much liquor, too fast.

He didn't realize how impaired he was as he headed out the door and passed out between the rails of the tracks, not far from his backyard.

Two train conductors told police they'd slowed the train from 60 mph to about 15 mph after being warned about a man walking in the area, according to Huron police reports.

When the conductors saw Wray face-down near Williams Street, they activated the train's emergency brake. Of course, it was too late for the 4,200-ton train to stop completely.

An officer found Wray lying on the ground next to the train, his face bleeding and his pants completely torn off. Police and fire officials said he was lucky to be alive.

Jim Wray, an officer with U.S. Customs & Border Protection, said the fact that his son didn't realize the train was coming may have helped save his life.

Doctors later told him if Wray had seen the train, he might have tried to move at the last moment and could have suffered even more of a blow.

Still, the impact rippled through him and his family, changing their lives in an instant.

After being released from the hospital, Wray moved in with his father and stepmother, Jackie Wray, a medical technician. His girlfriend, Beth North, 24, also spends time caring for him.

Wray's brush with death seems to have changed his outlook on life.

Before the night the train ran him over, communication with his father was sporadic and peppered with arguments.

He lived with his mother, Jean Kreidler, and was rarely home -- spending most of his time working and going out with friends.

Now, he and his father have become much closer.

Wray said he's also anxious to go back to school, considering careers in business, law enforcement or filmmaking.

While his drinking got him into trouble with police before -- he's had several alcohol-related charges in Huron, and a Sandusky Municipal judge ordered him to undergo substance abuse counseling in May 2008 -- he said he's ready to make serious changes this time.

A Huron Municipal Court judge ordered him to undergo supervised probation for a year after he was charged with criminal trespassing and public intoxication. He's also required to undergo alcohol assessment and avoid alcohol while on probation.

Wray's father said the ordeal has been difficult for everyone, but he hopes if nothing else, it sends a clear warning about the dangers of binge drinking.

"I think his friends have all realized Jamie's not invincible, and neither are they," Jim Wray said. "Hopefully something positive will come out of this, and I firmly believe it will."

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