One year after a horrific car accident shattered his facial bones, an Atlanta high school baseball player is stepping back onto the field, My Fox Atlanta reported.
Kenneth Hartzfeld was in his junior year at The Westminster Schools when he collided with another car driving home from his summer job. He was cut out of the vehicle and rushed to the closest trauma center, where surgeons found his facial bones broken in at least eight places— including his jaw, cheekbones and both eye sockets.
“Given the degree of trauma to his face, the lacerations and fractures, he was having a hard time protecting his airway,” trauma surgeon Dr. Avi Bhavaraju, of Wellstar Kennestone Hospital, told My Fox Atlanta. “So, when someone comes in like that, we have help them, to protect them. So we ended up intubating him and putting him on a ventilator."
Four days later, Hartzfeld, then 17, woke up in the ICU and later underwent a 11-hour surgery to repair his facial bones with titanium plates.
Hartzfeld walked out of the hospital 19 days later wearing his team’s baseball cap, and determined to go back to school and his sport. He was back in class less than a month after the accident, with his jaw wired shut, wearing a tracheotomy tube and a gastrostomy tube.
"Originally, they said I would probably never play baseball again,” Hartzfeld told My Fox Atlanta. “But I decided that was wrong. I wanted to play."
Hartzfeld, a shortstop and pitcher, is now playing summer baseball, and the college scouts have started coming around again.
"This chapter of my life is now over, and I can only look ahead,” he wrote on his Facebook wall at the one year anniversary of his accident.