Family and friends of St. Marys native Tom Krug have worked tenaciously to organize a fundraiser being held on Saturday evening at The Edgewood to assist the family in paying their medical bills as they continue to recover from injuries they sustained in a multi-vehicle pileup crash on Interstate 80.
The benefit dance will run from 6 p.m. to midnight at The Edgewood, located at 717 S. St. Marys St. behind the Subway restaurant. Ticket costs, available for singles or couples, include the cost of food, adult beverages and entertainment. Attendees must be 21 years of age.
Fellow St. Marys native and comedian Bubba Bradley will take the stage at 7 p.m., followed by the band Bounty Hunter. There will also be a cash drawing.
Tom, a graduate of Elk County Christian High School, is the son of Tom and Kathy Krug and has two older siblings, Angela and Nick. Courtney is the daughter of Laura and John Kocjancic of Johnsonburg and is the sister of Jaclyn, Ellie, John Paar and Frank Kocjancic.
Currently the family resides in Brookville, where Tom is employed at HCR Manor Care and Courtney keeps busy as a stay-at-home mother.
The entire family is very active in Brookville sports programs as Tom is a coach with the town's Little League/Minor League baseball program, the Brookville Lumerjack Youth Football program and the Brookville Raider Elementary Boys' Basketball program.
Tom, 31, along with his wife Courtney and their three sons, Jack, 9, Charley, 6, and Sammy, 4, were traveling near DuBois on Monday, Jan. 2, 2012 when they were involved in a multi-car pileup on Interstate 80.
According to Nick Krug, Tom's brother, an exact description of the accident is still unclear; however, according to some eyewitness accounts, a tractor-trailer was passing a slower-moving tractor-trailer as the first truck jackknifed on the interstate. The second truck then hit the first truck and they both collided into a third vehicle, which was pushed alongside the guardrail. The Krug vehicle was the fourth car in the 22-car pileup, which ended up having a total of nearly 40 vehicles involved in the crash.
Nick relayed that when the Krug vehicle initially hit the vehicle in front of them as they were hit from behind, the family did not sustain any injuries.
Tom then exited the vehicle in an effort to rescue his sons by taking Jack and Charlie out of the vehicle and escorting them over to the side of the roadway.
At that time Courtney, was removing Sam from his car seat. Tom returned to the vehicle to assist his wife when they witnessed a tractor-trailer heading toward them.
Courtney and Sam took refuge under a coal truck, assuming the multi-ton vehicle would not move. Simultaneously Tom was shouting to Courtney not to hide under the truck. These were his last words to her at that point as he was then struck by the tractor-trailer.
Jack and Charlie witnessed the accident from the roadside. However, Scott Marks, a passerby, along with his girlfriend and their two children, pulled off the side of the road upon seeing the boys standing by themselves. Marks and his family made a human shield to prevent the boys from seeing the accident. They comforted the children and later transported them to the hospital, where they were reunited with their family.
According to Nick, it is speculated that Tom's head became pinned between the tractor-trailer and his vehicle's door, crushing his head in the frame of the car.
Tom received severe head injuries as his scalp was torn nearly completely off, making the skull visible.
Courtney received several severe injuries, including a crushed vertebrae in her neck, a broken collarbone and a broken shoulder blade, when she and Sam were pinned in the accident. Sam sustained a serious injury to his hand and arm.
Due to weather conditions, the family was not flown to DuBois Regional Medical Center (DRMC), but rather transferred by ambulance.
Nick explained that because Tom's wallet was in the car, he was initially classified as a "John Doe" upon arrival at DRMC. As Tom's parents and siblings searched the hospital, a Pa. State Trooper assisted them in locating Tom, whom his father identified because of a tattoo he has on his shoulder. Due to the accident, Tom was hard to identify due to his head injuries and significant swelling of his body.
"Doctors didn't want to give us any kind of hope as to what to expect, just not to expect a lot from him," Nick said. "The outcome looked pretty bleak."
In addition to his head wounds, Tom was diagnosed with a broken and separated shoulder, a broken scapula, two collapsed lungs, 85 percent of his ribs were cracked or broken and he sustained significant bruising. Doctors later discovered his right shoulder had also been injured.
Tom was transferred via ambulance to UPMC Mercy Hospital in Pittsburgh. Doctors' primary concern was his head injuries; however, Tom did not have any surgeries, only stitches to his scalp.
Nick said that Tom's skull was not cracked or fractured; doctors said this may have helped somewhat in his situation as it would have allowed for brain swelling and the release of pressure in his brain.
Initially the family was not given a specific prognosis on Tom's injuries because they were so severe. They were informed he suffered a diffuse axonal injury (DAI), one of the most common and devastating type of brain injury, in which damage occurs over a widespread portion of the brain rather than just a specific section. DAIs are a frequent cause of persistent vegetative states in patients.
"The amount of prayers and things we have received from people was so empowering. I think he could really feel it," Nick said. "His neurosurgeon and all of the other doctors said that he exceeded their expectations, just being incredible and a year from now we won't even be able to tell he had an injury. It's totally amazing."
A breathing and feeding tube were eventually removed as Tom was transferred from the trauma unit to the rehabilitation floor.
During rehabilitation, Tom began his day with occupational therapy, where therapists worked with him on moving and standing. He then underwent physical and speech therapy. The same treatment cycle repeated in the afternoon.
During this time Courtney and Sam were released from the hospital. Courtney spent a majority of her time traveling back and forth to Children's Hospital in Pittsburgh meeting with doctors regarding Sam's follow-up care, as well as visiting with Tom.
Tom was in the hospital for nearly one and a half months when he walked out of the hospital on Friday, Feb. 10, which friends have referred to as "Happy Discharge Day." Later that night, Tom attended a Brookville basketball game.
Those interested in following Tom's progress may do so on Facebook by typing in "Prayers for Tom Krug." Updates are posted daily.