When Wiley Corra fell 40 feet off a bridge six months ago, he “was basically dead,” said his father, Andy. But now, after months of rehabilitation in three different medical facilities hundreds of miles apart, he is getting ready to go back to Durango High School next month.
The 15-year-old has made a “miraculous” recovery, his father said, since he fell in May from a pedestrian bridge just outside Salt Lake City. Wiley suffered brain damage from his fall, injuring the parts of his brain that control language and motor function for the right side of his body.
Andy Corra said his son has kept a positive attitude as he relearns how to read and walk – Wiley’s language center and motor skills strip in his brain “took a big hit,” Andy Corra said. It could be years before he fully recovers.
“These things take time, but he’s looking like he’ll make an amazing recovery,” Andy Corra said.
Wiley was a “high-level mountain athlete” before he fell in May, his father said. He’s been kayaking since he was 2 years old. He won mountain bike competitions at DHS. And just two weeks before the fall, he won third place in an international Nordic skiing competition.
Nordic skiing is something that has always come easy to him, Wiley said Saturday at his welcome home party from Omaha, Nebraska. He’s hoping to make this year’s Nordic Skiing national championship. He’s always been a hard worker, an attitude his father said he has kept even after losing total control over language and the right side of his body.
But that does not mean recovery has been easy.
Corra’s parents spent the first month of his recovery in Utah while staying in a trailer sent and packed full of supplies by Durango residents. After Utah came Englewood, Colorado, and the Craig Hospital there that specializes in brain and spine injuries. Three months at Craig had Wiley rehabilitated enough to travel to Omaha and a skilled nursing center there where the young Durangoan started to relearn to read and walk and prepared for getting back to high school.
The accident hasn’t made Wiley Corra abandon his dream – if anything, it has emboldened him to work toward racing Nordic skiing in the Olympics.
“I think the accident made me want it even more,” he said.