Student still faces long road to recovery

By By, Brendan Heck, Collegian Correspondent

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In the wake of several hit and run accidents this academic year involving University of Massachusetts students, one lucky student is back in school to finish his senior year after an accident last winter left him in critical condition.

After being found unconscious in the middle of the night, spending a month in a state of comatose, followed by months of rehab, Petrit Vasi of Dorchester, Mass., says he plans to graduate in the spring.

At 12:20 a.m. Friday, February 6, 2004, Amherst Police found Vasi on the side of the road at the intersection of Triangle and Mattoon Streets in Amherst.

Vasi spent over a month at Spaulding Hospital in what he describes as a, “state of comatose.” Vasi said that he could hear people speak to him, and was able to speak fragmented sentences, but could not open his eyes.

When asked about the accident, Vasi scratched his head and stated, “I can barely remember anything about that night.” From what he does remember Vasi had been out with a friend and, “had been drinking.” Vasi also remembers going back to his friend’s house and waiting for a car to pick him up. That was the extent of Vasi’s memory of the night of the accident.

Police stated that Vasi’s injuries were consistent with being struck by or falling from a moving vehicle. When asked if he could remember which one it was Vasi replied, “I can’t confirm or refute that I was thrown from a car, but I think that I was hit.”

Vasi gave reasons for believing he was hit including the fact that his injuries were all on his right side of his body, and also that the friend that was supposed to pick him up and according to Vasi, “the only person I would have ridden with,” came to the hospital the next morning.

However, Vasi also stated that there was no money in his wallet when he was found, but he dismissed the idea of being robbed and confirmed that he usually does not carry much money in his wallet anyway.

Vasi continues to speculate on the circumstances surrouding his accident, “It would be more of a story for me to tell you that I got thrown from a car,” he then smiled and said, “It would be more notorious, but because of the injuries, I am confident that I was hit.”

Police would not comment further about the incident because it is still under investigation.

When Vasi as he called it, “woke up,” in early March from his “state of comatose”, he remembers not knowing where he was and thinking that he had been in a comatose for much longer than a month. “When the doctors asked me how old I thought I was, I said 27.”

After waking up Vasi went through rigorous physical therapy. Confined to a wheel chair for the first week, Vasi then graduated to a walker, and from the walker a cane. Now over six months after waking up, Vasi can walk without the support of a cane, but still admits it is hard work, “walking to me now is like running used to be to me, and it’s a pretty funny sight to see my try to run,” Vasi said. Vasi’s memory is still recovering as well, and is, according to Vasi, “still a little shady sometimes.”

As several students have been the victims of car accidents this year alone, including Lisa Shiozaki and Ciara Tran, both of whom were left in critical condition, Vasi’s accident proves not to be an isolated event, and his recovery proves to be very fortunate.

Vasi reflected on the incident with a positive outlook saying, “I am just happy to be alive, this whole thing has really put things in perspective for me, and has matured me faster than I would have normally.”