INDEPENDENCE, Iowa (KWWL) – Sam Crawford is stepping on the soccer field Tuesday night at Independence High School.
The 17-year-old was badly injured in a near head-on crash with a farm combine near Winthrop last October. He was airlifted to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City. His younger sister Kate was a passenger and was treated at the scene.
Sam is still on the road to recovery, but Tuesday is special.
He’s starting his senior soccer season nearly six months after his accident.
Sam and Kate Crawford finished their school day on October 23, 2018. They wanted get a change of clothes and a quick bite to eat.
“I was on my way home to my mom’s house to grab clothes for the volleyball theme,” Sam explained.
The pair never made it to the volleyball playoff game. Instead, they were in a serious car accident along Slater Avenue, near 200th Street.
News of the crash spread quickly in the small town. One of the first to find out was Sam’s soccer coach, Nate Whited, who’s known him since he was a young boy.
“Shortly after school gets out, ambulances and firetrucks start leaving town and everybody in town, their hearts just sink, ‘Oh don’t let it be a kid,'” Whited said. “Then you hear it is a kid. Then you hear it’s a kid that you know, and his sister, and you both know them both. I don’t know how his mom and dad did it.'”
Sam said he blacked out at the scene. But he remembers waking up to a sea of emergency responders standing near his car. He thought he was dreaming.
“Someone said something like, ‘Oh we got to get his leg out from under there,’ and I just looked down and saw blood on my nose and I’m like, ‘Oh wait no. This happened,'” Sam remembered.
He broke his collarbone and cut his face. But he and Kate survived.
“Once I see the pictures of the car, you realize how bad it could have been,” Sam said.
Sam couldn’t play soccer after his accident, forcing him to miss off-season competition. He went through physical therapy for his shoulder.
“Soccer has just always been my thing,” he said.
While it was difficult to sit out, the senior was determined to come back for his spring season.
Whited said there was no doubt he’d see his player return.
“I think Sam just kind of took it as, ‘I was dealt a bad set of cards. But watch what I do with them,'” Whited said.
On Tuesday night, when he steps on the field, Sam’s senior season is taking on a new meaning. He said he’s learning to take each day as it comes, and he’s hoping to end to his high school career on a high note.
“I’d just like to do anything that I can to help the team win,” Sam said. “I mean, I think this group of guys has so much potential.”
Sam may play college soccer next year. He told KWWL he’s lucky to be alive. He’s both excited and nervous for the season opener.
The game is at 5:30 p.m. The Independence Mustangs will be at home to take on Maquoketa.
Sam’s family is collecting donations at the game for the Ronald McDonald House. The charity helped them while they were at the hospital.
For a full list of items they need, you can visit the Mustang Boys Soccer Facebook page. Click here.