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After devastating accident, Athol boy excited to return home for the holidays

Devone Fox embraced her son Javan after speaking to reporters.
Devone Fox embraced her son Javan after speaking to reporters. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe stafff)

Javan Fox, 13, has been looking forward to when he could finally go home.

That day finally arrived Wednesday, when he was discharged from Franciscan Children’s hospital in Brighton, where he’s been recuperating from a devastating accident that nearly killed him in August, when he was hit by a truck while riding his bicycle in Athol.

“When he first got here, he couldn’t walk, he couldn’t talk . . . he couldn’t communicate at all,” said his mother, Devone Fox.

But on Wednesday, the eighth-grader walked on his own power and stood tall in front of a group of photographers and TV cameras, and patiently took questions from news reporters.

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What was he going to do when he got home to Athol?

“I’m just looking forward to seeing my family,” he said.

His older brother and sister, as well as their family dog, a Pomeranian Chihuahua mix named Farrah, have also been waiting for him to be able to come home.

“This is a big day for us,” his mother said.

Javan hasn’t been home since Aug. 14, the day of the tragic accident that nearly cost him his life. He was out on his bicycle and riding home when he got caught in a rainstorm and was hit by the truck. “The truck didn’t see him coming, and he didn’t see the truck,” his mother recalled.

“He was wearing his helmet,” she said. “That saved his life.”

The man driving the truck was Javan’s old hockey coach, she said.

“It truly was a horrible accident,” she said. “No one was at fault.”

Javan suffered severe head injuries, facial fractures, fractures to his vertebrae, and a broken wrist as a result of the collision, according to hospital officials. He was initially treated in the intensive care unit and was on a ventilator at UMass Memorial Medical Center, and was later transferred to Franciscan Children’s on Sept. 6.

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Since then, he’s undergone physical, occupational, and speech therapy and made impressive progress. His physical therapist, Kaleigh Duggan, said he went from sitting up to sitting in a wheelchair, to eventually standing up and walking on a treadmill while wearing a harness.

Today, Javan can walk on his own just fine.

Physical therapist Kaleigh Duggan tried to convince Javan Fox to accompany her to the microphone as occupational therapist Jaclyn Figueroa and his mother, Devone, looked on.
Physical therapist Kaleigh Duggan tried to convince Javan Fox to accompany her to the microphone as occupational therapist Jaclyn Figueroa and his mother, Devone, looked on. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe staff)

When asked what it was like, having to learn how to walk and talk again, Javan provided a straightforward answer.

“They kept on asking me to do stuff,” he said, “and I just kept on doing it, so I could get out of here sooner.”

His thoughts on finally returning home? “I feel happy,” he said.

Javan plans to return to school Monday, and he wants to get back into Boy Scouts and other extracurricular activities that he participated in before the accident, including dek hockey.

Javan Fox looked over at his physical and occupational therapists and smiled as his mother talked about how much the staff meant to her.
Javan Fox looked over at his physical and occupational therapists and smiled as his mother talked about how much the staff meant to her. (Jessica Rinaldi/Globe staff)

On Wednesday, both Javan and his mother wore shirts emblazoned with the number 24, which is the number he wears when he plays dek hockey. Javan has played everything from forward to goalie in hockey, but defense is his preferred role. “Defense is definitely one of the most fun” positions, he said.

After spending two months as a patient at Franciscan Children’s in Brighton, the hospital in has become a second home to Javan and his family.

“It’s a little bittersweet to leave,” Devone Fox said. “But we’re really, really excited to go home to our hometown of Athol.”

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“To have him home for the holidays is truly a blessing,” she said.


Emily Sweeney can be reached at esweeney@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney.