Cole Ohrt has been a fan of the outdoors for most of his life. He has helped his parents with ranching duties for as long as his mother, Julie Ohrt, remembers.
The 14-year-old is no stranger to ranch life and being outdoors, she said.
"He loves to hunt and do anything outdoors with his dad. He loves helping out with ranching," Ohrt said.
Dec. 21, Cole was driving a Polaris Ranger ATV from his family's home on Berger Road to his aunt and uncle's home, less than a quarter-mile away from his home. Cole was on his way to retrieve a tractor to grind feed for calves when his Ranger drove through mud.
The innocuous mud would have devastating consequences. The soft ground caused the ATV to slip and roll over. Cole was thrown off, and the ATV landed on his neck, Ohrt said.
"He wasn't messing around. He was just trying to get to my brother-in-law's house. It's on the same property as our home," Julie Ohrt said. "It was a freak accident."
The crash has left Cole with a severe spinal cord injury, she said. He has been at University Hospital in San Antonio for a week, where he is paralyzed from the shoulders down.
"We're hoping with time and prayer that it won't be permanent, but that's the case right now," Ohrt said.
Cole has had surgery to repair his neck, which was fractured and dislocated, and a separate surgery to fix his broken jaw. Cole has also had a tracheotomy. He is on a ventilator to help him breathe and a feeding tube.
The injuries Cole suffered in the accident are especially devastating, Ohrt said, because Cole loves to spend time outdoors. The eighth-grade student at Meyersville School enjoys hunting, fishing, roping calves and steers and competing in local rodeos.
Cole is in the intensive care unit, but his mother hopes he will soon be moved to a rehabilitation unit. Though Cole is unable to speak at the moment, he is able to mouth words and communicate with his parents. Through the severe injuries, Cole maintains a positive persona and is in good spirits.
"He definitely still has his easygoing personality. It's amazing. The nurses can't believe how he's taking everything in stride," Ohrt said. "He's still smiling. He's amazing."
Intensive physical, occupational and speech therapy is next for Cole, and his family is praying for a full recovery.
"We're relying on faith," Ohrt said.
Leslie Crews, a family friend, said there are several fundraisers planned to help Cole and his family with medical expenses. Ohrt said she and her husband, Garrett, are in awe of how community members have stepped up to help.
"We're just amazed at what people are doing and how many people are pulling for Cole," Ohrt said.
She said she is thankful for the contributions people have made for her son but has one request for the community.
"People can help by praying for Cole," she said.