Chance meeting helps train accident survivor walk again

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Mitchell Hammons, 46, wasn't supposed to live, let alone walk again.

But that's exactly what he's doing.

It hasn't even been four months since his devastating accident and he's holding onto a walker and taking slow steps at Scott Sabolich Prosthetics and Research.

Back in August, he was walking home around 3 a.m. from seeing a friend.

He had earbuds in and music turned up loud.

He didn't notice the train coming toward him until it was too late.

As he turned to run, he tripped, leaving his legs over the tracks.

The train ran over them and cut both off around the knee.

First responders did not believe Hammons would live but he survived nine surgeries in 19 days and made a rapid recovery.

With a steely determination, Hammons simply decided he wasn't going to let the accident get him down.

As he takes a break from learning to walk again at Sabolich Prosthetics, he reflects on the last several months.

"I've come a long way," he said. "I'm supposed to still be in ICU by their standards."

His fiancee, Sally Hill, who he proposed to shortly after the accident, has been by his side every step of the way.

"He has amazed me," Hill said. "He's amazed everyone and I'm just really proud of him that he's able to do this."

But just a month ago, Hammons' family thought this might not be possible.

They didn't know how they would come up with the money; the 20 percent not covered by insurance for prosthetic legs.

But a chance encounter for Hammons' mom at Ross changed everything.

The clerk, who knows Hammons' mom, asked how he was doing.

"She said to me, 'How is your son?' And I said, "Well, the latest is he may not get legs,'" Hammons' mom, Marilyn Cassetta, said.

The customer standing in front of Cassetta had a son who works at Scott Sabolich Prosthetics and Research.

She just happened to also have the same name.

"So what are the odds of two mothers named Marilyn meeting in a Ross store, one of them whose son makes artificial legs, the other son needs artificial legs," Cassetta said.

That encounter paved the way to Hammons getting his legs with no money out of pocket.

Scott Sabolich Prosthetics was able to waive the 20 percent co-pay because Hammons qualified under financial hardship.

Walking on new legs has not been as easy as Hammons thought it would be.

"I still want to do the same as I did before but I can't because they're not the same kind of legs," he said.

But his prosthetist, the same one whose mom met Hammons' at Ross, said he's doing remarkably well.

"He's super hardcore," Andy Anders said. "He's super determined, so anything that he can do, he's going to do it."

Hammons' family said the blessings just keep coming and they wouldn't be surprised if he was walking without the walker by Christmas.

"The fingerprints of God are all over this," Cassetta said. "I mean, since the very beginning."


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