The family of Nnamdi Okongwu were left with a very hard decision regarding the continuation of life support after the 17-year-old Chino Hills boy was injured in a freak skating accident on July 17th at Ruben S. Ayala Park. Basketball coach Mel Sims confirmed that the boy was said to be brain dead and was in a critical condition in hospital.
The reaction from his school, Chino Hills High School, has been one of shock and hope of a recovery. Tributes have been flooding in along with hopes for the best outcome possible for the young basketball star. Coach Sims simply said “we need a miracle right about now”, and the team and coaches have been praying for his full recovery. Teammate Chazz Smith said “He truly, genuinely cared about everybody that was around him” and that “he had a very bright future ahead of him”.
Okongwu was supposed to start his senior year in the fall. His coaches believed that senior year was when he was going to get his big breakthrough in basketball. Even then, he was considered a basketball standout and was being watched closely by Pac-12 teams.
The fatal accident has affected the team greatly. Kyle Billingsley, another coach at Chino Hills High, told reporters that “He just made you feel good when you were around him” and described him as having a “charismatic smile”. Jared Nyivih, a friend of Okongwu since the sixth grade, said Okongwu “Was one of the nicest kids you could meet” and that “everybody knew him, everybody liked him”.
Clearly Nnamdi was well respected and liked by everybody. However, for his family, this may be of little comfort as they try to decide whether to continue or suspend life support efforts.
When someone suffers a serious brain injury, the person may be kept alive by machinery; however, a full recovery may not be possible. While the area of life support is not always cut and dried, and some people have recovered from seemingly fatal brain damage injuries, in most cases once a person is on life support he or she does not have much hope of full recovery.
This is a harrowing time for friends and family, and is not a time when most people can think about the legal aspects of the case. In fact, it may be impossible for a family stunned by grief to think about collecting damages. This is why it may be best to turn any accident case, particularly a fatal one, over to an attorney who can fight for compensation while also maintaining respect for the family.
The attorneys at the Gilleon Law Firm, APC know that brain injuries often leave people suffering for years and the medical bills that come with this type of injury can be astronomically high. With decades of experience in dealing with brain injury cases, the Gilleon Law Firm, APC is the place to turn for help if a loved one has suffered from brain injury.