Sunday marked the first Father’s Day for Tim Siegel since his son Luke (now age 10) was severely injured in a golf cart accident. Siegel explained that Father’s Day– like every day since Luke’s accident– was tough.
The Siegel family spent Father’s Day weekend in Dallas, they attended a basketball tournament for Luke’s older sister. While Tim Siegel said it was a nice to spend time watching his daughter compete, their visit didn’t come without reminders of Luke’s limitations.
‘During her final game, [Luke] was throwing up, I had to walk him away when they were in the second half,” Siegel explained. Stomach difficulties are just one of the hurdles Luke faces on a regular basis, he still eats through a feeding tube and is very limited in his movement and ability to make sounds.
His life was changed after a golf cart accident on July 28, 2015. Lubbock Police reported that Luke and his friend were riding in a golf cart in South Lubbock at a high rate of speed, driving in circles around a cul-de-sac. Witnesses said the golf cart tipped over, crushing Luke. Luke was taken to University Medical Center for treatment where his family learned that Luke had gone into cardiac arrest, suffered severe brain damage. Doctors told Luke’s family members that he would likely not be able to speak or move for the rest of his life.
Luke and his family went to Dallas so that Luke could be treated at Cook Children’s Hospital in Forth Worth during the later part of 2015. They returned home to Lubbock in January of 2016 and since then their lives have been packed with Luke’s therapy sessions and doctors appointments.
Siegel explained that Luke does therapy most days a week, from speech therapy to physical therapy as he works on becoming stronger. Already, Luke has made more progress than the doctors predicted.
“His mouth is stronger, so he can give us different sounds,” Siegel said. “My goal is to one day to be able to communicate with Luke, whether it’s through a computer or one day with him, and I think he’s learning how to swallow better and [working toward] maybe ice chips or frozen lemonade in his mouth and maybe getting the tongue to follow.”
On Father’s Day communicating directly with Luke was something that Siegel missed most. With so many major sports events going on: from the NBA finals, to Texas Tech Baseball, to the Ranger’s game, Siegel wished he could have bounced sports commentary back and forth with his son.
“All of those things Luke and I would have talked about, made predictions, discussed before, because he’s such a big sports fan and we talked sports and played sports all the time,” Siegel said. “So that was difficult as well, just knowing there were so many things to talk about, I talked to him about [the sports games], but I just know one of these days I’ll get a response from him.”
The Siegel family’s journey in Luke’s recovery has captured hearts both on the South Plains and afar, over 26 thousand people follow the Pray for Luke Siegel Facebook page and over three thousand people liked the post that Tim Siegel made on that page for Father’s Day.
As he helps his son with each step of recovery, Siegel is hoping to use his platform to educate other families about golf cart safety. He wants to become an advocate for golf cart safety– and possibly write a book– to help teach about the dangers of golf carts and to show other families what to expect from traumatic brain injuries.
“I thank God that we had people that saw what happened, I also know that there were mistakes made and eventually we’re gonna find out about those mistakes, but the main thing for me now to help the community,” Seigel said.
“It does blow my mind that children at 10 years old can’t drive a car 30 miles an hour in a neighborhood but they can drive a 20 or 30 mile per hour golf cart,” he said. “I want to get involved with people in the city, from the mayor on down talking about maybe some reform, that maybe there should be an age limit. But I think it’s also about parents, understanding what they bought. For their golf cart, is the center of gravity good? Is this golf cart safe? This golf cart that Luke was on was over 950 pounds.”
Siegel plans to become more and more involved in the fight for golf cart safety as Luke continues to recover.
His other message to parents is that time with your kids is precious.
Sometimes he find himself asking why all this happened to Luke and their family. But then, Siegel said he refocuses on his top priority: supporting all four of his children and feeling gratitude for the overwhelming community support and prayer his family has received over the past year.
Even when the days of helping Luke and supporting his family are frustrating or tiring, Tim said he won’t stop fighting because his miracle boy keeps him motivated.
“The bottom line is Luke is my hero, I am inspired by Luke and I’m never giving up because Luke’s never giving up,” Siegel said.