For those who never have met Hunter Jacobson, they have likely heard his name. The young Sandpoint High School freshman was critically injured in an accident on December 2. Since that time, he lies in a coma in a Spokane hospital with family and friends keeping a constant vigil by his bedside while the community rallies around him to do all they can to support his recovery.
“Improvements have been small but encouraging. His eyes are open, and he will watch and follow those around him with his eyes,” said Hunter’s dad, Bob Jacobson. “He is breathing on his ownand is moving all of his limbs, but he is still considered in a conscious coma.”
Outfitted in full, top-of-the-line riding gear, Hunter was riding his dirt bike when he experienced the serious accident.
“He was riding with a friend, Nick Stangel, in Naples at the designated riding area,” said Bob, who went on to explain that Hunter had received a new bike in October and was preparing for an upcoming race in Kalispell. “No one saw the accident so we are not sure exactly what happened. All we know is that he went off a jump and did not land well. We are not sure how he hit his head but he has a severe TBI [traumatic brain injury].”
With Life Flight not an option due to the weather, Hunter was transported to Kootenai Medical Center where he was diagnosed with critical head trauma, a ruptured spleen, 11 broken ribs, a broken collarbone, broken scapula and a collapsed lung. After the medical team at Kootenai Medical Center removed his spleen, Hunter was transported to Sacred Heart Hospital in Spokane. With pressure increasing in Hunter’s brain, the doctors at Sacred Heart removed the left side of Hunter’s skull as well as a small portion of his brain to relieve the pressure.
Nearly three months after the accident and showing signs of improvement, the future for Hunter is still uncertain as his body tries to repair itself from the trauma of the accident. But there is hope. Hunter was recently transported on a medically-equipped fixed wing airplane to Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital in Omaha, Nebraska where they specialize in TBI for pediatrics. “He has been doing well the past couple of weeks, and we are anxious to get him going with rehab,” said Bob in a recent update, adding that Hunter is still considered to be in acoma.
When asked to describe his son in one word, Bob responded, “Adventurous.” In addition to being a very outgoing and athletic young man, Hunter has always shown a lot of natural talent when it comes to sports. Bob said his son is involved in many activities including baseball, football, basketball and motorcycle racing. But it was during Hunter’s seventh and eighth grade years when his true passion turned to racing.
“4-H was starting a new motorcycle club (BCTrailblazers), and he was really excited about being part of that and being the team leader for it,” said Bob. “He also loves to hunt. He has been able to hunt for the past two years and has harvested his elk and deer both years. He still planned on playing baseball but had set aside football and basketball for more track time at the motocross track. He had a very successful summer racing. … He loves to race.”
Although Hunter has medical insurance, there are expenses that continue to mount each and every day.
Described by friends as a wonderfully kind family and Hunter as “an insanely rad and bright young man,” the Jacobsons are grateful for all the support they have received over the last few months.
“[The support has been] unbelievably overwhelming. ‘Thank you’ can’t begin to express our gratitude,” said Bob. “It shows you what kind of community we live in and the character of the people who live here.”
He said the support to him and his family, including Hunter’s mom April and their other two sons, Tanner (a 2015 graduate of SHS) and Walker (a 2017 SHS graduate), has been amazing. “Everyone, including family, friends,the entire community, my co-workers and the hospital staff, has been so supportive,” said Bob.
To help with costs not covered by insurance, and there are many, there is GoFundMe account set up with a goal of raising $10,000 that has already reached nearly $8,000. Recently, Jalapeno’s Mexican Restaurant hosted an evening, Dine Out For a Cause, which raised just short of $6,000 for the Jacobson family.
A large portion of the money raised that evening was due to the efforts of Hunter’s close friends, Eli Daugherty, Zander Moore and Zac Kohal, who passed out bracelets and stickers in exchange for donations. It was a wonderful example of how the youth in the community have come together to help their friend.
And there are even more opportunities to show support for Hunter and his family.
Mark your calendars for March 31 2018, as you do not want to miss the Hunter Jacobson Benefit. The event is an opportunity for the community to come together and support Hunter while also enjoying a wonderful catered dinner, wine and beer, music, dancing, and live and silent auctions.
It has been in the planning for several weeks, and organizers are thrilled with the response received. “People are contacting us all the time to ask how they can help,” said Carmen Daugherty, a member of the committee and a longtime friend of the Jacobson family.
With music from the extremely popular Miah Kohal Band and a kids’ bar where they can prepare their own concoctions, there will be something for everyone!
“We have had several donations coming in already, and they are awesome!” said Carmen. Some of the items include: two season passes to the Festival at Sandpoint, a beach cruiser from Super 1 Foods, a 6-foot sub from Mr. Sub and a three-night stay at the Idaho Club, which includes three rounds of golf for four donated by Go Sandpoint – Vacation Home Specialists.
It will be a time to not only provide support to the Jacobson family but also one another as the community holds onto hope that this much-loved young man will soon return to his passion of living life to the fullest—and for those who know Hunter, there is no doubt he will be OK.
“Hunter likes to joke around with people and pull practical jokes,” said Bob about his youngest son. “He’s also stubborn and has a mind of his own.” It is that tenacity that Bob and others pray will pull Hunter through this.
Steve Russo, a longtime friend of the family, agrees.
“Hunter is one of those kids that can do anything he sets his mind to, whether it is football, baseball, basketball or motocross; he just excels at anything he gets involved with,” said Steve. “Some may overlook him because he is a humble, respectful kid and wise beyond his years, but under that, Hunter is a competitor and a fighter!”