UPDATED: Noah Lear passed away Wednesday morning. Click here for more details and a statement from his family.
BUCYRUS, Ohio – A boy, a blacktop, a basketball and a hoop. That can be the best place in the world for a teenager.
On Feb. 27, it was one for the worst for a Bucyrus, Ohio, family.
That day, Noah Lear and three friends (Trenton Dunford, Andy Randolph and Michael Hernandez) were doing what they always do, playing basketball out at the Calvary Baptist Church on Marion Road in Bucyrus. The 16-year old went to dunk a basketball and the support post, backboard and rim came down, crushing Noah’s head and neck. The accident left Noah fighting for his life.
“He called me a little bit after 7 p.m.,” Noah’s mother Melissa Griffin said. “He said, ‘Mom, I had an accident, I hurt my teeth.’ I told him to not worry about his teeth and asked where he was and he told me that the police were there and they were going to take him to the hospital.”
When Griffin arrived, her son had not arrived yet. Then she started hearing trauma calls over the hospital speaker.
“I didn’t even know what kind of accident he was talking about,” Griffin said. “Was it a car accident or what? Then I finally saw him and the bleeding was so bad and he just kept saying he was sorry. I told him he had nothing to be sorry for, he didn’t do anything wrong. He was just out being a good kid playing basketball with his friends.”
A Facebook post from a page dedicated to keeping loved ones updated, called “Battle of the Lear,” posted this about the accident:
“Noah is only still with us thanks to his amazing friends Trenton Dunford and Andy Randolph. These boys stayed calm in the face of tragedy and called 911. Meanwhile their friend Michael Hernandez helped hold Noah’s head so that all of the blood would not run down his throat and choke him. Then at the hospital Dr. (Larry) Tinchner and his amazing E.R. nurses kept Noah with us until the Life Flight arrived to bring him down to Children’s (Hospital). All of these people are heroes.”
The quick action by his friends saved Noah that day at the court. He was taken to Bucyrus Community Hospital, where doctors were able to keep him alive, reviving him twice, until Life Flight took him to Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Lear was in a coma.
“He went into cardiac arrest twice in Bucyrus and they brought him back and stabilized him so he could be moved to Columbus,” Griffin said. “At that point, I thought everything was going to be fine. They had to do surgery and put him in a medically induced coma, which is standard for those injuries.”
Lear endured surgeries and MRIs and all came back fine. But doctors could not tell how things were going to go until they saw some sort of sign from Lear himself. That sign has yet to come.
“He worked his butt off every day,” Bucyrus basketball coach Tony Rose said. “He never complained and always gave 110 percent and just loved the game. He is a great kid, a quality kid, which you always wanted to be around. He was quiet, but very well-liked by his teammates and coaches.”
It is the Noah Lear work ethic that kept him alive. Since that life-changing day, Lear has fought for his life. Meanwhile, the ultimate teammate has been receiving an outpouring of support.
“The best word to describe Noah is teammate,” Lear’s junior varsity coach Josh Coleman said. “He didn’t care about anything other than the team. The only thing he cared about was what he could do for his teammates and his team to make them better. He was a great friend and those four guys did a lot together.”
On March 4, Lear had surgery to fix his separated jaw and the fractures in his face. It also was an exploratory surgery to check his vocal chords and trachea. His jaw was wired shut and a steel plate was inserted to hold it together.
Lear was unable to breath on his own while a ventilator was providing six breaths per minute during his improvement stages. On the morning of March 4, Lear began shaking uncontrollably and doctors notified his mother, Lear was not having seizures. His blood pressure had spiked extremely high, causing the convulsions.
On March 7, an update post on the Battle of the Lear Facebook page said he was breathing on his own, but had yet to come out of his coma.
“The coma medicine wore off, but he never came out of it,” Griffin said.
On Monday, Lear’s friends and classmates were notified he had been moved to hospice care after his brain injuries were found to be worse than originally thought.
“Although he has brain activity and is breathing on his own, the part of his brain that controls his heart and blood pressure has been damaged very badly,” the Facebook post said. “Due to this, he was moved this past weekend to a hospice care facility. He has been made very comfortable there and his tremors have been controlled better. He has been fighting for his life for 17 days now. He has survived this long against all odds. Unfortunately, he has not come out of his coma and they do not expect him to be with us much longer. He is still fighting, though. So we ask that you all continue praying for him. Pray for his amazing family that created and raised such an amazing human being. Pray for his miracle, for their miracle.”
“Noah is not going to make it,” Griffin said. “He was just being a good kid playing with his friends.”