The Husson freshman critically injured in a head-on crash with a driver going the wrong way on Interstate 95 three months ago is already back on the road and plans to return to school in the fall.
“I’m driving again,” Tristan Kaldenberg, 19, said Thursday by phone from his hometown of Littleton, Massachusetts. “There is no slowing me down.”
He spent nearly a month recovering in hospitals after breaking his nose, jaw, ribs, pelvis and femur in the crash — and he still needs more surgeries to fix his jaw and teeth, his mother, Jennifer, said.
The first year Health Science student at Husson University, who is studying to become a physical therapist or radiologist, plans to resume classes in the fall.
“I’ve ditched the crutches, and I’m almost walking without a limp,” Kaldenberg said. “I’m almost back to normal.”
Kaldenberg was driving north toward school near Pittsfield around 6:50 p.m. on March 12 when he collided with a truck driven by Hugh Brawn, 70, of Clinton who was traveling south in the northbound lane, authorities said.
Brawn is still in the hospital, his wife, Donna, said Thursday.
“It’s been a long road,” she said.
State police said after the collision that Brawn underwent hip surgery at EMMC.
Lead investigator Lt. Mark Brooks, who is based out of the Augusta barracks, said Friday that Brawn is “in a pretty difficult condition” and has not been interviewed.
The Somerset County District Attorney’s Office will eventually review the case. As of Thursday no charges have been filed, a clerk at the DA’s office said. Kaldenberg declined to discuss whether a lawsuit is pending.
Kaldenberg only “had only seconds to react” before the crash, McCausland said at the time, adding that troopers suspected Brawn “was intoxicated and disoriented.”
“The truck came over the hill and hit me,” Kaldenberg said Thursday. “I don’t actually remember the true impact. I remember I was driving and the next thing I remember I woke up in the hospital a couple days later.”
His limited memory of the crash may have actually helped him to get back behind the wheel, he said.
“I don’t think I would be driving today if I remembered,” he said.
A LifeFlight helicopter brought the teen from the crash scene to Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor, and he was later transferred to Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. He had further treatment at Spaulding Rehab Facility in Charlestown, Massachusetts, closer to his home.
Kaldenberg has already had several surgeries, including one to fix his leg that had broken in four places.
“He had his spleen removed, part of his intestine, and has bruised lungs,” his father said. “His femur was repaired.”
Kaldenberg returned to Bangor about a month after the crash to visit the LifeFlight base in Bangor and thank the first responders who helped to save his life, he said.
He credited his loved ones with his fast recovery.
“Having people visit all the time and having my parents by my side — it was incredible,” Kaldenberg said.