A Derby teen who was released from the hospital this week has a long road to recovery after being critically injured in an accident that killed another driver.
The June 8 collision fractured bones in Jason Miller’s chest, back, pelvis, right arm and left foot; dislocated his hip; and caused internal bleeding. He has had five surgeries since the accident and is waiting to find out if he will have to have a hip replacement. Last week from Ascension Via Christi Rehabilitation Hospital, the 17-year-old said he’s “living, not the dream, but living.”
He was released from the hospital this week. He’s using a wheelchair and a modified walker to get around this house. His parents ordered a grabber tool to help him put on shorts.
His parents are just thankful that he survived.
“We are extremely grateful that he is still with us,” his mother, Lisa Miller, said. “We are so grateful that the injuries are ones that can be repaired.”
The four-year varsity bowler who recently graduated from Derby High School only remembers bits and pieces of the accident.
‘Headlights right in front of me’
Miller was headed home from work at TJ Maxx in his mother’s van. He was on Patriot Avenue near Rough Creek Road, a couple of miles from home, when he said a driver crossed into his lane.
“Suddenly headlights right in front of me and that’s the last thing I remember from before the impact,” he said.
Jason Miller said he later learned the other car flipped multiple times, and the driver was ejected and pinned underneath. The car caught fire and he died at the scene. Media reports identified that driver as 27-year-old Kurtis Tabor of Derby.
Miller woke up to silence while pinned in the driver’s seat.
“It was a dead silence, could barely see,” he said. “It was just really scary. I didn’t know what happened at that point.”
Miller blacked out and woke up to a man asking if he should call anyone. Miller gave him his mother’s number. Lisa Miller said the man was calm as he explained where her son had been in an accident.
Jason Miller’s parents and his brother and his fiancee rushed to the scene. Lisa Miller said she ran up and said: “I’m here, mom’s here.” But Jason Miller doesn’t remember that. He continued to drift in and out of consciousness while first responders used the jaws of life to cut him free. It took 22 minutes to cut him away, he said.
Photos of the van show the front and driver’s side completely smashed.
It wasn’t until he was in the ambulance that he started to realize what happened. He asked and medics told him he was going to Wesley Medical Center and would be there in 10 minutes. He doesn’t remember feeling pain, only that it was difficult to breathe.
He was rushed in for testing and then surgeries. A doctor told Lisa Miller that the seat belt caused internal bleeding. She said it also saved his life.
Jason Miller next woke up thinking it was Thursday, but it was Friday night, two days after the accident and three surgeries later. He underwent two more surgeries in the next several days. It will take about a year to know if he needs to have a hip replacement.
Another big unknown is how the accident will change Miller’s bowling style. The avid bowler finished the 2022 season with the top average in the state. He had planned to study automotive technology at Butler Community College in the fall, but that’s now uncertain.
Miller was doing intensive physical therapy at Ascension before being sent home Monday. He will be working with a therapist a couple of times a week at home. Doctors hope that he will be able to walk again in a couple of months.
Lisa Miller said there’s been a huge outpouring from the community.
A former coworker of Jason Miller’s set up a GoFundMe to help with medical costs. Donated gift baskets are being raffled and auctioned off at a bowling fundraiser from 7-9 p.m. Friday at Derby Bowl. Tickets for the baskets are available at TJ Maxx in Derby or during the event at the bowling alley.