Family, friends welcome home crash victim:Grandmother organizing fundraiser

  • On Thursday, friends and family came out to welcome home 18-year-old Jake Whitney, who was badly injured in a car crash on June 29. RECORDER STAFF/DOMENIC POLI

  • On Thursday, friends and family came out to welcome home 18-year-old Jake Whitney, who was badly injured in a car crash on June 29. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

  • On Thursday, friends and family came out to welcome home 18-year-old Jake Whitney, right, who was badly injured in a car crash on June 29. Here he is with ICU nurse James Mclaren. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

  • Jake Whitney, 18, gets a hug from relative Liam Ellis on Thursday, when friends and family came out to welcome him home after being badly injured in a car crash on June 29. Whitney’s father, Paul Whitney, looks on. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO

Staff Writer
Published: 9/4/2020 5:48:36 PM
Modified: 9/4/2020 7:05:47 PM

ORANGE — Friends and family flocked to Stone Valley Road on Thursday afternoon to welcome home 18-year-old Jacob Whitney, who was badly injured in a car crash two months ago.

Whitney was almost home the morning of June 29 when the car he was driving hit a guardrail and went into a tree, fracturing his skull, collapsing his lungs and causing other serious injuries. He was hospitalized at UMass Medical Center in Worcester for three and a half weeks before going to Whittier Rehabilitation Hospital in Westborough.

“It was very emotional for the family. It was a … blessed day,” Angel Woolley, Whitney’s grandmother, said about the homecoming. Whitney’s parents brought him home.

The loved ones in attendance included Whitney’s girlfriend, his young sister, his cousins and an intensive care unit nurse who cared for Whitney in Worcester. Whitney had been in a medically induced coma for a couple of weeks and must still use a feeding tube.

Woolley said he has a lengthy healing process ahead of him but he has made great strides.

“Jake is amazing,” she said. “I think he’s working hard and he’ll continue to work hard.”

Gerald Whitney said it is an enormous relief to have his grandson home.

“I was amazed with all the wet eyes that were there,” he said. “It was absolutely emotionally draining to everybody who was there.”

The elder Whitney explained EMTs drove his grandson to Worcester because poor weather prevented him from being airlifted. He mentioned doctors have said it “is a miracle that he’s alive.”

Woolley said she has planned a fundraiser to help the family, as Whitney’s father has not worked since the accident and Whitney is scheduled for more surgeries in October. A raffle, with items donated by businesses from Orange, Athol and Greenfield, is planned for Oct. 3 at the Millers Falls Road & Gun Club, with a DJ and some live bands. Woolley said the COVID-19 pandemic is making the fundraiser a bit tricky, as Gov. Charlie Baker’s orders prohibit outdoor gatherings of more than 50 people, though the pavilion can hold up to 400. She said she is selling specific tickets for 10:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. and 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. in order to limit the number of people there at one time. Woolley also said there will be a bake sale and some free food. Information on how to buy tickets can be found at TeamJakeWhitney’s Facebook page.

There is also a GoFundPage (bit.ly/2EZe1MP) set up for the Whitney family.

Reach Domenic Poli at: dpoli@recorder.com or 413-772-0261, ext. 262.


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