Hero’s welcome: Britton Shipp’s homecoming

Britton Shipp and teammates from the Snow Canyon High School football and baseball teams pose for a photo at Shipp's welcome home party at Canyon View Park, Santa Clara, April 11, 2015 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

SANTA CLARA – A large crowd gathered at Canyon View Park, 1400 Canyon View Drive in Santa Clara, clapped and cheered as an old fashioned firetruck came up the street and turned into the park. Riding on a couch set atop the firetruck was the focus of the crowd’s admiration: Britton Shipp. The 16-year-old was receiving a homecoming after having spent over 160 days at Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George following an ATV rollover accident in November that originally left him in a coma.

Britton Shipp, aided by his father, Jesse Shipp, is given a hero's welcome when he arrives at the park for his homecoming party after over 160 days in the hospital, Santa Clara, April 11, 2015 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
Britton Shipp, aided by his father, Jesse Shipp, is given a hero’s welcome when he arrives at the park for his homecoming party after over 160 days in the hospital, Santa Clara, April 11, 2015 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

The cheers of the crowd kept on as the firetruck pulled up to the pavilion. As Britton was helped off the firetruck by his father, Jesse Shipp, cheerleaders from Snow Canyon High School lined up on either side of the two. With his dad helping him along, Britton walked to the stage where he was front and center for a hero’s welcome.

Five months ago, Jesse Shipp said, he wouldn’t have imagined Britton being able to walk following the injuries he sustained in the all-terrain vehicle rollover on Nov. 1, 2014. “I wouldn’t have thought that in a million years, five months ago,” he said.

During a day-date for a Sadie Hawkins dance at Snow Canyon High School, Britton and his date were riding in a side-by-side ATV that flipped and ejected the two. While Britton’s date sustained minor injuries, Britton received a traumatic brain injury when a part of the ATV rolled on top of him and crushed his skull. He was airlifted to the hospital by Life Flight and underwent surgery that afternoon.

Britton was in a coma for about a month, which he gradually came out of. He has undergone additional surgeries and physical rehabilitation since. He was transferred to Dixie Regional’s Acute Rehabilitation Unit at the 400 East campus in December.

All the while, the community support around the teen and his family came flooding in.

Faith and prayers came to us in our time of need,” Jesse Shipp said as he stood by his son and the rest of the Shipp family on the stage. Each were wearing either jerseys with “Shipp 7” or “#Believe4Britt” written on them. Many in the crowd wore them as well. “We’ve seen prayer work hundreds of times in the last five months,” he said

Britton Shipp and his father, Jesse Shipp, and the stage address the crowd gathered to welcome Britton home after over 160 days in the hospital, Santa Clara, April 11, 2015 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
Britton Shipp and his father, Jesse Shipp, and the stage address the crowd gathered to welcome Britton home after over 160 days in the hospital, Santa Clara, April 11, 2015 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

“This is a story of faith as much as anything,” Jesse Shipp said, adding he believes God’s hands have been with his son and family from the very start.

The story of Britton’s accident and subsequent progress in recovery has made regional and statewide news. Already known in the world of high school sports as a member of the Snow Canyon football and baseball teams, support came from Britton’s friends and teammates, along with the community as a whole.

Fundraisers were held, friends and family visited and watched over Britton in the hospital, expressions of faith and prayer on the boy’s behalf were shared, while others engaged in acts of service for the family.

There’s no words to express how grateful my family and brother are for all of you,” Autumn Shipp, Britton’s older sister, told the crowd. “I don’t think our family would be standing here if it wasn’t for you,” she said. “Thank you for believing in him, it means a lot.”

In order to keep the public apprised of Britton’s condition and progress – as well as to alleviate the many calls and messages sent to the family asking such – Autumn Shipp created the Our Boy Britt blog.

Gratitude for the expressions of faith, prayer and love shown by the community were the overarching themes of the Shipp family’s comments Saturday. Jesse Shipp said hundreds of thousands of prayers from people of different faiths had been offered for his son.

Britton Shipp and teammates from the Snow Canyon High School football and baseball teams pose a photo at Shipp's welcome home party at Canyon View Park, Santa Clara, April 11, 2015 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
Britton Shipp and teammates from the Snow Canyon High School football and baseball teams pose for a photo at Britton’s welcome home party at Canyon View Park, Santa Clara, April 11, 2015 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

“Love is probably the greatest thing that helped this young man right here,” Jesse Shipp said, “love and prayers.”

Following the family’s remarks, they stepped back and let the crowd line up on either side of the stage to come and say hello to Britton once more, or meet him for the first time. Among them were Britton’s teammates from the Snow Canyon High School football and baseball teams.

“It’s a great feeling to see him finally come home with everything he’s been through,” teammate Brock Staheli said.

Jackson Nowatzke said Britton is the same as he’s always been through everything: always hardworking and determined. Nowatkze also called Britton his hero.

“Everything that he’s been through, it’s so inspiring to see what he’s battled through, how positive he’s stayed through his whole experience – it’s just something that keeps me motivated,” Nowatzke said. “It’s something I’ll always think about when I’m down.”

Jesse Shipp said he was happy to hear his son’s experience was inspiring his friends and others.

You don’t quit fighting, and he fights and he works hard everyday and he makes strides in therapy,” Jesse Shipp said.

Recalling the farewell party the Dixie Regional Medical Center staff gave Britton Friday, Jesse Shipp said it was a bittersweet occasion.

Family, friends, and others gather around Britton Shipp to welcome him home. Some hug him while others give Britton fist bumps and take photo with him, Santa Clara, April 11, 2015 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News
Family, friends, and others gather around Britton Shipp to welcome him home. Some hug him while others give Britton fist bumps and take photo with him, Santa Clara, April 11, 2015 | Photo by Mori Kessler, St. George News

“It’s great to have him under our roof again, finally back home,” Jesse Shipp said. “It was bittersweet leaving friends at the hospital.”

He also said it was incredible to see his son be able to take several unaided steps out of the hospital when they left Friday.

“Yesterday was the most he’s waked on his own,” Jesse Shipp said. “He told us he wanted to walk out of the hospital, and he did.”

Jesse reiterated that he believed God was looking after everything that had happened since Nov. 1, and that the power of faith shown on behalf of Britton have carried the Shipp family through the last five months.

“There’s never been a question of faith since this all happened,” he said. “Faith is the strongest thing in the world. Nothing’s stronger than faith. Nothing.”

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Email: mkessler@stgnews.com


Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.

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25 Comments

  • Bender April 12, 2015 at 9:22 am

    Misusing the term “hero” again headline writer? How about “determined teen”?

    • Chris April 12, 2015 at 12:37 pm

      Agreed. The terms “hero” and “coward” are both grossly misused in today’s media. This is a heartwarming story, but I really don’t see anything heroic about it.

    • AnotherReader April 12, 2015 at 9:00 pm

      @bender, you are wrong, at least in this case. A hero does not have to rescue someone from a fire or take a bullet for a friend. A hero is generally someone esteemed or admired for courageous and noble actions or qualities. In this case, despite the odds against him, Britton has exhibited those qualities and many more. He is a fighter; he has overcome tremendous challenges, and he’ll persevere through many more. That indeed makes him a hero in a very true sense.

      • Bender April 13, 2015 at 2:32 am

        Sorry @ANOTHERREADER, no biscuit. Knock yourself out molesting your mother tongue, but Bender ain’t buying it. 4 part heroic checklist:
        .
        Faces danger or adversary: check
        .
        from a position of weakness: check
        .
        Displays courage or self-sacrifice: check
        .
        for the greater good: sorry, nope.

        • AnotherReader April 13, 2015 at 6:26 am

          Sorry to you @bender, even your 4th point applies as his fight serves as inspiration for us all. So eat that biscuit.

  • Linda April 12, 2015 at 10:07 am

    Amazing!!! so glad you are home Britton. You got this kid, I look forward to hearing more of your amazing journey. good luck and God Bless.

  • fun bag April 12, 2015 at 5:52 pm

    Should of wore a helmet that time. Myself, I would of took a cab instead. It’s cheaper.

  • Free Parking April 12, 2015 at 5:55 pm

    Yeah I can’t figure out why the term. Hero. is used here I see no hero in this story.. the people that come home from their service tour with arms and legs missing are Heros the people that get shipped back home in an American flag covered coffins are Heros. this kid is no hero and for writer to refer to this kid as a hero is a total lack of respect for the real Heros that protect this country and law enforcement agencies that put their lives on the line to protect our communities. this kid is NOT a hero

    • Bender April 12, 2015 at 7:53 pm

      Disagree FREE. Coming home dead or maimed from an IED does not make one a hero either. Certainly the person, and their family, made a big sacrifice and the event was unfortunate. The term hero is mostly misused in this context also.

      • Free Parking April 13, 2015 at 5:04 am

        Whoopi doo for you

  • ladybugavenger April 12, 2015 at 6:10 pm

    I have to agree with the word hero being used inappropriately, perhaps survivor would have been appropriate.

  • fun bag April 12, 2015 at 6:16 pm

    I don’t see a problem calling the boy a hero, since the term is already thrown around so loosely. Heck, they like to call every enlisted man a hero just for basically doing a job and getting paid for it whether they do anything heroic or not. This is a pretty sad story no matter how you slice it, so who cares, let them call the boy a hero if they want…

    • Free Parking April 12, 2015 at 9:29 pm

      Yeah whatever you say Koolaid

      • fun bag April 12, 2015 at 10:10 pm

        dont think he on the site anymore

        • Free Parking April 13, 2015 at 5:02 am

          Whatever you say Koolaid

  • westley56 April 12, 2015 at 6:58 pm

    The people in here saying this kid is no hero are perfect examples of cowards. You would never say this except when you are behind your computer screen. Britton is a hero to many people including myself, who are you to tell me who I can and cannot have as my hero.

    • Free Parking April 12, 2015 at 8:46 pm

      You mean like you’re doing right now.. Attacking people while hidden behind your keyboard.. You’re just nothing but a gutless wonder

  • Stephen April 12, 2015 at 7:19 pm

    So since my father survived a Propane explosion when he was on the fire department can he get his hero welcome home thing as well?

  • ladybugavenger April 12, 2015 at 7:43 pm

    In that case, I’m a superhero

  • fun bag April 12, 2015 at 9:58 pm

    y’all just jelly cuz if any y’all got brain damaged an ur head crushed and what not, aint no one would be there to welcome any of y’all home with any kinda party and celebration so keep on bein’ mad an jelly, ahahahah

    • Free Parking April 13, 2015 at 5:03 am

      Whatever you say Koolaid

  • runcarrie April 13, 2015 at 12:31 am

    Wonderful article about an amazing young man. I am proud to be part of a community that cares so much for each other. I am saddened that some feel the need to nitpick over a word instead of rallying around this courageous boy and his family.

    • Free Parking April 13, 2015 at 5:05 am

      Whaaaaaaa Whaaaaaaa

  • The train April 13, 2015 at 6:36 am

    Are you guys seriously arguing about If he is a hero or not? Who cares. The kid made an awesome recovery and is home now. Let the editor do his job and you do yours. Either be positive or find something better to do with your time and get off your moms computer down in the basement and go get a job.

  • anyonemouse April 13, 2015 at 9:33 am

    Re-read title (with reading comprehension turned up one notch). “Hero’s welcome” in the title is a common phrase used for “a type of welcome”, not necessarily a declaration of hero. This title could and likely should be interpreted this way, then all these arguments should be about the welcome itself and not if this youth is or isn’t a hero which is rather subjective.

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