Teen shares story of survival, recovery after horrific crash

by: Richard Thompson Updated:

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SEATTLE —

Seventeen-year-old Andy Sommer was walking the halls of Harborview Medical Center on Thanksgiving Day.

Sommer is recovering from broken bones, a collapsed lung and severe burns after a horrific crash in October.

"I just braced for impact, and he nailed me, and I blacked out," said Sommer, speaking publicly about the crash for the first time.

Sommer regained consciousness a few seconds after a semi-truck rear ended his Jeep on Highway 12 in Rochester. The truck pushed Sommer's Jeep into oncoming traffic, where he collided with another car. Sommer said his Jeep then caught fire.

"I'm trying to get out. I'm trying to get out, and all of a sudden, whoosh. It just catches on fire. I'm like, 'Ooooh,'" Sommer recalled.

Sommer said he owes his life to an off-duty firefighter, Travis Crear, who saw the crash and pulled Sommer from the burning vehicle.

"He rips me out, takes my sweatshirt off, that's on fire. Just amazing," Sommer said.

A month after the crash, Sommer was still at Harborview recovering from second- and third-degree burns.

At the beginning of the week, a surgeon from the Harborview Burn Center performed an operation to temporarily sew Sommer's burned right hand into his belly. The director of the burn center, Dr. Nicole Gibran, explained the procedure to KIRO 7.

"By tucking his fingers into that pocket, we are able to get some growth of healthy tissue," Gibran said.


Click here to see photos of Sommer's hand sewn into his belly. (WARNING: GRAPHIC)


Sommer's family has spent a lot of time at Harborview, and the missed work and medical bills are both adding up. Community support has meant the world to the family, which is now selling "Team Andy" T-shirts to raise money to offset the rising bills.

Despite the long and expensive road to recovery, both Sommer and his family were very grateful on Thanksgiving.

"I'm thankful that my son is here right now. That's the bottom line. I am very thankful for that," Rob Sommer told KIRO 7.

Andy Sommer faces additional surgeries before he is released, but if all goes well, he could be home for Christmas. Family updates of Sommer's progress and photos showing Sommer's recovery, which has included a visit from Seattle Seahawk Doug Baldwin, are on the family's "Andy Sommer Fund and Updates" Facebook page.

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