Keene State student injured in crash out of ICU

  • Sam Lachance. courtesy PHOTO

Monadnock Ledger-Transcript
Published: 1/28/2019 7:21:44 PM

A Keene State College freshman is out of the Intensive Care Unit this week, after being seriously injured in a head-on crash with a tractor-trailer unit in Dublin last Tuesday.

Samuel Lachance, 18, of Manchester, suffered brain bleeds, burns, a fracture in his foot, and had surgery to remove his spleen after his Jeep drifted into the opposite lane and hit an oncoming Mack truck, driven by Jean Morency. His Jeep was also hit by the Toyota Sienna, driven by Marc Cramer of Peterborough, which had been traveling behind him.

Lachance, a freshman and graphic design major at Keene State College, was driving to the college for his first day back after winter break when the crash occurred.

What caused Lachance to enter the opposite lane is still under investigation.

Lachance’s mother, Jessica Lachance, said in an interview Monday that over the weekend, Lachance was able to be moved out of the Intensive Care Unit at Massachusetts General Hospital and into the Trauma Recovery Unit.

“Right now, he’s being treated for his burns and is continuing to start his recovery phase,” she said.

The family recently confirmed that Lachance has a “significant traumatic brain injury” Jessica Lachance said. But he’s been able to make significant progress from his initial state after the accident, she said.

“Anything right now is a miracle, because he’s alive,” she said.

Lachance doesn’t remember the crash, she said, but has been able to recall other things.

“He is having moments where he recognizes us and is able to speak to us,” she said. “He doesn’t remember what happened, but he remembers names and people and can talk clearly.”

Cramer, in an interview with the Ledger-Transcript Monday, said he followed Lachance’s Jeep into Dublin from Peterborough. Lachance didn’t show any signs of weaving before he drifted into the left-hand lane just before the accident, he said.

Cramer, whose dash camera caught the crash, said he had no time to react when he saw the crash only feet in front of him.

“There was no way to turn left or right, you had to go straight. I was going into a wall of fire. I screamed, ‘Lord, help me,” he said.

Cramer said his van collided with the Jeep in the midst of the fireball, and ironically, he thinks that probably helped to save Lachance’s life, because the second collision pushed the Jeep out of the center of the fireball.

“If it weren’t for our vehicle hitting the right front wheel, he would have burned. It was by the grace of God, really,” Cramer said. “If you look at the wreckage, and you look at the video of the Jeep as it was being hit, you just don’t see how someone can survive that.”

Cramer, and his son John Cramer, 18, who was a passenger, weren’t injured in the crash, and they, along with a witness to the crash, Bank Promploy of Keene, helped to pull Lachance from his burning Jeep. Cramer said he has some first aid training, and just tried to keep Lachance’s neck stable, and him turned on his side. Though his dash cam shows it was only about eight minutes from the crash until police arrived, it felt like an eternity.

“What seemed forever was really only a couple of minutes,” he said.

Jessica Lachance has posted on her Facebook page that it is one of the Lachance family’s hopes that eventually, Lachance will be able to appear at a ceremony thanking the Cramers and Promploy in person and shake their hands.

It won’t be clear how much Lachance will be impacted by his brain injury until further into his rehabilitation, Lachance said, but his doctors are encouraged by his progress so far.

“The rate at which he has hit the progress markers in terms of his brain injury, they’re amazed,” she said. “Youth is on his side, and you can tell he’s fighting.”

Jessica Lachance said her son has been able to be removed from a ventilator and has had his chest tube removed, but is still on a feeding tube, and is being monitored for continuing brain bleeds and a tear in his carotid artery, the major artery in the neck. However, she said, he may be able to be moved from the hospital to a Boston rehabilitation facility sometime in the next few weeks.

Jessica Lachance said the family has been offered assistance from several different parts of the community, including Hannaford in Manchester, where Lachance worked on his breaks, and the bowling community in Manchester, where he was involved as a youth bowler.

Keene State College has also reached out to the family, she said. She is unsure how long her son’s recovery is going to take at this point, but the college has been supportive, she said.

“It’s overwhelming to go from where we were less than a week ago, to where we are now,” she said. “But we have a whole community rallying around us, which is amazing. he’s got so many people visiting and supporting him. It’s really helped us a lot.”

A GoFundMe account has been set up for the family and can be found at https://www.gofundme.com/help-a-fellow-jeeper.

Ashley Saari can be reached at 924-7172 ext. 244 or asaari@ledgertranscript.com. She’s on Twitter @AshleySaariMLT.


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