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Victoria native's accident reinforces faith, parents say

By JR Ortega
May 2, 2012 at 12:02 a.m.
Updated May 3, 2012 at 12:03 a.m.

Caleb Jentsch receives rehabilitation for his motor skills after a skiing accident in January. Jentsch has made significant progress and is now working to regain his short-term memory.

Caleb Jentsch's life can be told through his favorite Scripture, Nahum 1:7.

"The Lord is good, a refuge in times of trouble," the Scripture reads. "He cares for those who trust in him."

This trust in God has been innate for the 21-year-old Victoria native, but following a near-fatal January skiing accident, that trust has been put to a true test.

The accident left Jentsch inches from death and four months later, the healing is evident and gradual.

But the story is not about Jentsch's uphill battle, his family said. It's about his unspoken testament touching the lives of those around him.



The accident

Jentsch knelt on one knee in a signature "Tebow" stance.

Jentsch was at the Keystone Colorado ski resort, a place he's been many times before. He and several friends decided some much needed skiing was in order.

But something went wrong on the blankets of snow that cold Jan. 5 afternoon. Jentsch, who is not new to skiing, hit a tree and instantaneously lost consciousness.

"He will never remember the accident," said his father, Kurt Jentsch. "When he hit that tree, his brain didn't have time to store that in his long-term memory."

Jentsch was flown to St. Anthony's Hospital in Denver, where he spent 26 days in critical condition.

He was then moved to TIRR Memorial in Houston. He is now at Touchstone Neurorecovery Center in Conroe, north of Houston.

"It's a slow process and we've got a way to go," his father said. "Has it been difficult? Absolutely, but that's where the trust in God comes in."



Pre-accident

John Woods has known Jentsch for several years, when he became the pastor of music and worship at Northside Baptist Church.

The Jentsches have attended the church for several years as well, and before leaving for college, Jentsch was one of the lead vocalists.

"Caleb has always had, and still does have, a strong heart to see God glorified in the world."

Like the family, Woods has seen this accident as something Jentsch can handle; something that God has done to make himself known.

"He's learning how to grow and trust God again," Woods said.

As a senior at Memorial High School in 2009, Jentsch helped organize The Big Event, a community service project uniting Christian teenagers. The event continued even after Jentsch moved off to Texas A&M University. He is a junior majoring in university studies with a triple minor in business, communications and history.

Amidst the studying, Jentsch stayed involved with his faith by going on several mission trips with iGo Global. This summer, he is set to go to Africa, his father said.

It's through these efforts that the Jentsches believe their son's recovery is more than just about him, it's about everyone finding strength in his recovery.

"It's about the larger picture," his father said. "He's (God's) using this to draw a lot of people together. It's a community of faith."



Post-accident

Caleb lives every day at the center, slowly being rehabilitated, though he's come a long way and can walk, talk and function for the most part.

Caleb's big hurdle is post -traumatic amnesia, or short-term memory loss.

Caleb has no trouble with the long-term memory, which his family is happy for.

"I'm here with him everyday," said his mother Deborah Jentsch. "He's made some progress ... his short-term memory is beginning to stick."

Life for him right now feels like a dream, the Jentsches said.

"Think of the movie Groundhog Day," his father said.

Because of the dreamlike state, Jentsch is sad and is not very talkative.

For him, he remembers falling asleep somewhere and now, everything is different.



The future

It may be overstated, but the Jentsches stand firm and clear about what the future looks like.

"It's in God's hands," Jentsch's father said.

Neuro-doctors expect for Jentsch to eventually come out of the post-traumatic amnesia, but when that will officially happen is unknown.

Every day, Jentsch becomes a little stronger, but from here on out, it will be a work in progress.

Right now, Jentsch's father travels from Conroe to Victoria several times a week because of his job. Jentsch's mother recently stayed a weekend in Victoria for the first time in four months.

Jentsch's sister, Sarah Kate, 7, has transitioned into homeschool to be nearer her brother.

If anything is going to help them stay strong and persevere, it is family, friends and, of course - God.

"Living a life of faith means never knowing where we're going to be lead," Jentsch's father said. "But it does mean loving and knowing the one who leads us."

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