It has been nearly a month since two members of the South Temecula Track Club were injured by a driver while out for a run Saturday, Oct. 17. Austin Elkins, a sophomore at Great Oak High School, and Jacob Brown, an eighth grader at a feeder middle school, were out running with other teammates when the female driver of a Ford F-250 veered off the road hitting the two young men.
Elkins suffered multiple fractures, among other injuries, and was immediately treated at Inland Valley Medical Center in Wildomar. Brown injured an arm and had surgery on his elbow the day after the accident. He was initially treated at Inland Valley and moved to Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego for the recovery.
“Fortunately, they were in a large group, and the runners that witnessed the accident did an amazing job at getting paramedics, coaches and parents there within minutes,” Coach Doug Soles said. “Our sport takes place on many different surfaces, and we train our runners for situations like this. We always make sure the kids are in groups and have phones on them.”
An initial social media post made by Austin Elkins’ father, Jonathan Elkins, drew more than 2,600 likes and more than 300 comments in a statewide show of support from across the running community. He posted that Austin had several severe injuries, including a fractured skull and bleeding of the brain.
“At the time he had a fractured C3 vertebrae as well as spinal issues,” Jonathan Elkins said. “After being home for a few days, Austin was having headaches, so we took him to Rady Children’s Hospital in San Diego. They wanted to transfer him to Sharps Hospital in San Diego after a long list of additional injuries were noticed.”
Austin Elkins was diagnosed with several additional face fractures, and it was found that his arm was not fractured; it was broken. Doctors said that he should not have been sent home so soon after the accident, his neck was not stable enough for him to be home due to the fact that if the C3 vertebrae moved at all, his spinal cord would be damaged, and air would become trapped between the skull and brain.
“I am setting aside any anger and instead being grateful we took Austin to Children’s Hospital for the headaches,” his father said. “Had we not, you can only imagine the outcome.”
Both boys are home now and recovering. Reports showed that they are both improving and have responded well to treatments.
“His spirits are getting higher as he recovers,” Jonathan Elkins said. “There has been tremendous response from all over the country. So many of his friends and teammates and coaches have been by to visit. He knows it is going to be a long road of recovery, but he’s making the best of everything that has been thrown his way.”
Austin Elkins competed in 11 cross-country meets for Great Oak as a freshman in 2019, making personal records of 16 minutes 1.80 seconds for 3 miles at the Dana Hills Invitational Sept. 28, and 16:15.80 for 5,000 meters at the Southwestern League Championships in early November. He was eighth overall among boys at the team’s time trial just over a month ago. He placed 24th overall in the Unattached/Club Championship race at the Desert Twilight XC Festival in Arizona recently. Brown is a top up and coming eighth grader who runs for the club and was training with the group when the accident happened.
T-shirts with the phrase “We are One” have been made for members of the teams to show support and the hashtags #milesforAustin and #milesforJacob have been trending on social media. As more updates to the health and well-being of both boys are made available, information will be found online at http://www.myvalleynews.com.
JP Raineri can be reached by email at email@example.com.