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Family fights back from crippling accident

A benefit will be held Saturday in Fosston, Minn., for Jace Hanson, 5, who suffered serious injuries in a December car accident that took the life of his great-grandmother.

A benefit will be held Saturday in Fosston, Minn., for Jace Hanson, 5, who suffered serious injuries in a December car accident that took the life of his great-grandmother.

The spaghetti dinner, auction and dance will begin at 6 p.m. in the American Legion in Fosston.

Jace's parents, Angie and Chad Hanson, say they are thankful they can hug their son, who is paralyzed from the waist down after suffering a broken back in the Dec. 14 accident.

Jace was riding that day with his great-grandmother, Lillian Bjornrud, 72, of Fosston, when the car was struck by a BNSF freight train at the Mark Avenue crossing in Fosston.

"That is the only crossing in town without the cross arms," Angie said in a phone interview Thursday. "There is a huge building that obstructs the view, too, and by the time you inch out - it's too late."

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Because of previous accidents, city officials have made plans to install crossing arms at the intersection.

"I can't even put into words what I was feeling that day," Angie said. "The three-hour drive to Fargo was hard. Very distraught; so thankful he was alive."

Angie, who had been in Thief River Falls the morning of the accident, met up with husband Chad in Fosston and had her mother drive them to MeritCare Hospital in Fargo, where Jace had been airlifted. When they arrived, medical personnel tried to prepare and calm the frantic parents.

At that time, they were told Jace may not survive his injuries.

"When we saw him, he was all swollen, with tubes hooked up all over," Angie said. "We couldn't talk to him because he was in a coma."

Jace was treated for a broken leg, broken back and a skull fracture. He is paralyzed from the waist down.

The news was difficult to hear, but it wasn't the worst possible news, according to Angie.

"I couldn't live without my son. I can live without him having (the use of) his legs," she said.

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The family receives help from a home health care agency, a physical therapist and a child psychologist. The psychologist helped the family talk with Jace about the accident, his injuries and the death of his grandmother.

"He was very close to her," Angie said. "He was with her at least three times a week."

At the hospital, Angie said Jace was really withdrawn and they had to spend a great deal of time trying to get him to open up. He started to open up with those who were with him every day, but continued to shut down around new visitors.

"We had to get him back home, and since we have been he's really come around," She said.

He enjoys playing with sister, Tyra, 7, and spending time with mom and dad.

"Tyra has been absolutely wonderful. It gets hard for her, I know. She is so strong."

Aware of Tyra's needs, her parents make sure they plan 'Tyra Days' when she can do something special with mom or dad.

Angie and Chad are grateful for all the family and community support they have received.

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The family home has been fitted with an entrance ramp with help from Options, of Thief River Falls. They have also received assistance from Polk County Social Services and the Shriners.

Jace isn't ready to go to school yet, but the elementary school is ready for him when he is ready.

The benefit for Jace will help raise money to pay for some of the family's medical expenses.

The Hansons are holding up under the circumstances.

"We are doing as well as can be expected. I don't think all of it has sunk in. Sometimes my 10-minute shower turns into a 20-minute shower," Angie said.

"My husband is great, and I love him to death. I couldn't live without him."

We weren't going to heat the garage this winter, but I called and ordered fuel. He needs to get out of the house and be able to work out in the garage. Sometimes, we need our space," she said.

Angie and Chad have been together a decade. They have spent the past seven years as husband and wife, and are thankful for the support they give to one another.

A fund has been set up for the Hansons and donations can be sent to: First National Bank, 124 West First Street, Fosston, MN, 56542. Jace's journey has also become part of the Caring Bridge network online and can be accessed at www.caringbridge.org . Type in jacehanson when asked which site to visit.

Jace will need another back surgery in three to six months. He will have years of physical therapy and nothing is certain, according to Angie.

"All the support from our families and the community has been great," Angie said.

Reach Nagel at (701) 780-1262, (800) 477-6572, ext. 262; or anagel@gfherald.com

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