A year ago Zack McQuaid was lying immobilized in a hospital bed, wondering if he’d ever walk again.
The 17-year-old from Oshawa, Ont., had been in a head-on collision that fractured three vertebrae and broke his right hand in three places.
But a year and three days after the July 26, 2016 crash, McQuaid was on the mound as the starting pitcher for Team Ontario’s first baseball game at the Canada Games.
“Since Day 1, it’s been my goal to come back for the summer Games because I knew it was a big year this year,” the right-hander said Saturday after throwing four scoreless innings with four hits, eight strikeouts and no walks in Ontario’s 14-4 win over Prince Edward Island.
“I was just happy to be throwing again, to be honest, after all that happened. It healed a lot quicker than I thought it was going to, and doctors thought it was going to, and I’m back performing better than ever.”
McQuaid was a passenger in the front seat of a GM Terrain heading back from a friend’s cottage in the late morning to play a ball game at home. The friend’s sister was in the back and her grandmother was driving. It’s believed the grandmother, in her 60s, may have had a stroke. Their vehicle swerved into the oncoming lane and smashed into a Dodge Ram on a road about 10 minutes from Oshawa.
All three were wearing seatbelts, but somehow McQuaid got out of the vehicle and fell down.
“I remember waking up on the road, everything was white and my ears were ringing, and I could just hear people screaming, like car parts all over the road,” McQuaid recalled. “I didn’t know if I was going to make it through or not.”
He was airlifted to a Toronto trauma centre and his parents rushed to see him after receiving a call.
80 per cent chance of being paralyzed
“He was awake and talking so we felt hopeful because we honestly had no idea what we were walking into,” said his mother, Heather, who’s in Winnipeg for the Games with husband John and their younger son and two daughters.
They learned their oldest child had a “burst” fracture of the L5, but pieces of the shattered vertebra hadn’t damaged his spinal cord. He also suffered less serious fractures to the L4 and L3. His right hand was broken in three places above his ring and middle fingers and he had contusions to his left lung.
“About 80 per cent of people are paralyzed with that type of injury,” his father said.
The teen spent almost two weeks in hospital. At home, he was basically bedridden for the first few…