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The Injury

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December, 1970

"Sometimes there's news you'd rather not handle"
By: Robert S. Johanson

Of the hundreds of news stories I personally have covered or written in the past year, none moved me so much as the one I had to write about young Jim Hemauer.

Jim's family doesn't know I'm writing about their son this week - but it seems to me the family and the boy deserve special admiration from all of us.

Jim, as you know, dived into a pond near Elkhart Lake last July 1, hit bottom, snapped his neck and was immediately paralyzed from the neck down.

Now 16, Jim is fighting to regain some small use of his arms and hands - but we have to face the fact that life for him will never be the same as it was before that fateful evening when he went swimming with a half dozen other youths.

After months in St. Joseph's Hospital, Milwaukee, Jim was transferred to the University Hospital at Madison for intensive rehabilitation efforts.

When the accident had happened, Jim's parents - Mr. and Mrs. Robert Hemauer, 350 N. Stafford St. - were, of course, stunned.

They finally came to realize, in a real display of courage, that their son probably would never have more than the movement of his arms, at best, for the rest of his life.

But they never have given up hope. Deeply religious, they have prayed as they never prayed before and they have kept up their spirits.

The other children, eight in all - four of them married - have likewise been inspiring examples of devotion.

NOTHING - not even surgery - can turn young Jimmy back into the strapping young athlete he was before his accident.

And the Hemauers only hope that their personal tragedy may result in some good or may help save some other young man's life.

Similar diving accidents have happened quite often, and this year a young man was fatally injured at Lakeland College when he broke his neck during football practice.

Despite the fact that such injuries are not uncommon, the impact of being paralyzed for life is more than the average person could bear, it would seem.

During the year, of course, there have been a number of other news stories which we deeply wished we didn't have to handle.

They usually concerned accidents - some of them fatal - on the highway.

A newsman can not become emotionally involved in such stories, but never do we have to deal with this news but what we stop and reflect on the pity of it all - and the unnecessary blight on many lives that such accidents leave.

So, if there were one plea we could make, to the young this year, as the New Year approaches, it would be to "take care," especially on the road.

Your lives, your futures, are too precious to waste.