One Year Later: Assaulted Native Professor Continues Healing and Hoping
David Warner was not expected to survive.
The culture, gender and race studies professor at Washington State University suffered a traumatic brain injury March 30, 2013, when he was assaulted outside a bar near the Pullman, Washington, campus. Warner, 42, doesn’t remember trying to prevent a verbal confrontation close to 2 a.m. that day or being tackled to the ground and striking his head against the asphalt.
Warner, whose heritage comes from Canada’s First Nations, was transported by helicopter from Pullman to Spokane, a distance of about 75 miles. Surgeons discovered that Warner’s skull had cracked into three pieces and his brain was swelling. They removed a four-by-six-inch piece of his skull to manage the pressure.
“My skull shattered on impact,” Warner said during a phone interview this month. “They didn’t expect me to survive.”
Warner doesn’t remember the two weeks he was in critical condition at Providence Sacred Heart Medical Center, or the following two weeks at a separate facility for serious head trauma. He remembers waking up at St. Luke’s Rehabilitation Institute and struggling to put words together.
“I lost about a month and a half,” he said. “My vocabulary was reduced to five words. I couldn’t think. I couldn’t come up with words except the five that were in my vocabulary.”
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