Golden Knight parachutist, badly hurt in biking accident, to be moved to rehab center
Foster's Daily Democrat, Dover, N.H.
ALTON, N.H. — On Thursday, the mother of an injured Golden Knight and Alton resident reported her son is being transported from a hospital in Missouri to a rehabilitation center in Chicago, where he will attempt to recover from a vehicular accident that has left him paralyzed from the waist down.
On Sunday, Sept. 9, Howard Sanborn III, 30, a star member of the U.S. Army's Golden Knight Parachute Team, was struck while riding a bicycle along a Missouri highway, just north of La Plata, Mo., along with a colleague, Sgt. Jonathon Lopez, 26.
The two were reportedly training along Highway 63 at 8:05 a.m., when they were struck by a 2000 Oldsmobile Alera, operated by Nathan W. Worstell, 24, of Macon, Mo.
Carol Sanborn said after her visit to Missouri, she has now returned to Alton, confident her son will make the best recovery he possibly can.
"That was the hardest goodbye I'd ever done but I've got to put my faith and trust in the people that are with him and hope that Howie's alert," she said. "He'll never be what he was but he said, 'Mom, you have not heard the last of me. I will find something to do that will keep me raising money for the charities.'"
"He wants to stay involved in extreme sports," she added, with a laugh. "They're talking about a wheelchair and he's asking if he can do wheelies in them."
Both Howard Sanborn and Lopez were stationed out of Fort Bragg in Fayetteville, N.C., where Sanborn served as the black demonstration team leader for the Golden Knights. The team travels the world displaying their technical skills, jumping out of planes and performing various stunts for the public. Howard "Howie" Sanborn has performed dozens of skydiving tricks, and was even featured in the feature film "Transformers 2."
Earlier this month, while he was recovering from another car accident — a hit-and-run when training on a bike in North Carolina that left him with a broken shoulder — Howard continued to travel the nation with his team. He was in Missouri to support the group before their performance in nearby Kirksville. According to a police report, the driver, Worstell, went off the road on Sept. 9 into the shoulder, and struck Sanborn, who subsequently crashed into Lopez. The two soldiers were then transported to the hospital by helicopter. Lopez was released from University Hospital, after suffering several contusions and lacerations, which required more than 100 stitches in his face.
A lieutenant with the Missouri Highway Patrol reported Worstell was cited for careless and imprudent driving, possibly for the use of a cell phone, and Sanborn's family reports they are pursuing the case for further charges. At this time, the police investigation has concluded, according to Lt. Nelson Elfrink.
Sanborn was in a life-threatening condition and after two spinal surgeries, is today paralyzed from the waist down — a condition which could remain for the rest of his life and prevent him from performing anymore air stunts.
Carol Sanborn referred to her son's attitude as "awesome," regardless, and said both a member of the U.S. military and his girlfriend are accompanying the injured airman to Chicago, to a state of the art institution for people in his condition.
"He know he's paralyzed but he's a fighter," she said.
She thanked the community again for their support and well wishes, asking for the "thoughts and prayers to keep on coming."
"He's got a long road ahead of him but I know we have not heard the last of him yet," she said.