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.
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
“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.
“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.
“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.”
Click on photo to enlarge it, then use your left-right arrow keys to cycle through the gallery.
- No Filter: Faith, hope and a key for Britton
- Believe4Britton: 16-year-old coma patient showing signs of recovery
- Community keeps believing for Britton; $18K raised in one night
- Parking lot garage sale benefits Britton Shipp family
- Believe4Britton: Community continues to rally, raising over $20,000
- Believe for Britton: Fundraisers planned for Snow Canyon teen in coma; prayer vigil held
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