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  • 29 Aug 2014

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After traumatic year, Madson is back in game

Portland Christian outfielder has 'amazing' recovery from crash that killed dad


by: COURTESY OF BETH MUMFORD - Malachi Madson of Portland Christian is back in the game one year after he was critically injured and his father was killed when a car hit them on their motorcycle. Madson spent two months (right) in hospitalized recovery.Malachi Madson was doing his thing with Portland Christian High on its annual spring baseball trip to Arizona last week, just as he had been when the Royals visited the valley a year ago.

Madson batted twice, and scored once after gaining a walk in one of the games.

It sounds like no big deal, but it was.

The junior outfielder’s recovery from an automobile/motorcycle accident that took the life of his father has been spectacular.

“He’s back to being Malachi,” coach Robert Key says. “He has his strength back, totally. I’ve never seen anything like it.”

In a word, Madson’s mother, Michele, calls the recovery “amazing.”

Michele will never forget the phone call she got during the evening hours of March 26, 2013, from an emergency-room doctor in Sacramento, Calif., where Madson was visiting his father, Marty, during spring vacation.

Madson had been with Portland Christian during its four-game Arizona trip the week before spring break. The rest of the Royals had flown home to Portland. Madson flew from Phoenix to Sacramento to spend the week with his father, who had divorced his mother six years earlier.

The next day, they went for a ride on Marty’s Harley-Davidson. A car making a left turn swung into its path. The collision instantly killed the senior Madson, 52.

Malachi, riding in the seat behind his father, was thrown 77 feet onto pavement on the street ahead. His injuries were severe.

“He was in very critical condition,” Michele Madson says. “The biggest problem was internal bleeding. They had to give him transfusions to keep him alive. It was touch and go.”

Among the other injuries: A concussion, lacerated scrotum, lacerated liver, collapsed lung, numerous fractures in hands and wrists, major fractures in both ring fingers, compound fractures in both arms and three major fractures in the pelvis.

“I don’t really remember the accident,” Madson says. “I remember up to a certain point that day, and then I remember waking up in the hospital.”

His mother flew to Sacramento that night, fearing the worst.

“I couldn’t believe it,” she says. “It was like one of my worst nightmares come true.”

Key was still in Phoenix, the last of the Portland Christian group to fly home, when he received an email.

“It read, ‘Did you hear about the tragic accident?’” Key says. “To hear that news — it hurt me. I was pretty shaken up. I prayed on him.”

The Royals held a team meeting and joined in a prayer for Malachi. Over the next few weeks, there was plenty of praying and hoping for the best.

His teammates were crestfallen.

“I was like, ‘Wow, did that really happen?’” Gabe Benfield says. “Malachi had played so well in Arizona. He just wanted to see his dad. I felt really bad.”

“I was on the couch watching TV, and Gabe gets a text saying Malachi has been in a car accident,” says Gabe’s twin, Logan Benfield. “Malachi is such a great guy. I love him. To hear that had happened, it was heart-wrenching. We’re great friends. We talk every day. I was really upset.”

MALACHI MADSONSlowly, Madson recovered. He was in the Sacramento hospital’s trauma intensive care unit for three weeks and in a regular intensive-care unit for another week before being transferred to Oregon Health & Science University. He spent a week there, then more than a month at the Providence Child Center.

“God was so good to us,” his mother says. “There were no spinal injuries, no fractures to his legs or feet.”

The Royals dedicated the season to Madson. They wore wrist bracelets in his honor and wrote his “No. 3” on the back of their baseball caps. When a player got a hit, he’d flash three fingers.

“It was a terrible thing to happen,” Key says, “but it brought us all together.”

In May, his mother brought Madson to a late-season game. He watched from a wheelchair. The next week, he was able to watch another game using a walker.

“We all went over and gave him a hug,” Key says. “It was an emotional time.”

Madson returned to school in the fall, still recovering from the injuries.

“I was asking him if he wanted to do baseball again this season,” Gabe Benfield says. “He said, ‘The doctors said I probably shouldn’t, that I should just work on getting better. But I’m going to do it.’”

Sure enough, when the Royals turned out for workouts in late February, Madson was there.

“He’s out there that first day, helping us get the field ready,” assistant coach Cameron Jackson says. “What a lift that gave us all.”

Madson is a reserve, “a role player,” Key says. “He’s not in the starting lineup, but he waits his turn. When he gets his opportunity, he does well.

“God works in major ways. After what he’s been through, he’s right back to where he was.”

Well, not quite all the way back. The 5-11 junior, who weighed 133 pounds at the time of the accident, dropped to 111 while hospitalized. “He was down to pretty much nothing,” his mother says. “He’s back to 125 pounds now.”

His teammates are just glad to have him around.

“It’s great to see he’s back,” Logan Benfield says. “He’s healthy. He’s gaining weight again. Malachi is an awesome teammate. He’s one of the most supportive guys I know. Not having him on the team would suck.”

“He’s rarely ever down,” Gabe Benfield says. “He jokes so much. He’s pretty much the life of the party. He loves everyone on this team. He’d do anything for the guys. It was great to know he was going to play, and that he’s doing so well after his accident.”

Asked if he feels he’s back to 100 percent health, Madson nods. “Yep,” he says.

He’s had a plate removed from his left arm and a screw taken out of his right elbow. He still has a plate in the left arm and one in the pelvis.

“We might look at having the one in the arm removed after school is out,” his mother says. “The one in the pelvis will stay.”

Sometimes, there is pain.

“He gets sore every now and then,” Key says. “He’ll take some Advil.”

“Mentally, he’s doing great,” his mother says. “He’s doing great in school. He’s had so much support from everybody at school — his friends, his teammates. That’s really helped.”

Key says he shakes his head when he looks at Madson and remembers where he was a year ago.

“Can you believe it?” says Key, who works as a physical education instructor at Portland State and boys basketball coach at Hudson’s Bay High in Vancouver, Wash. “What a blessing.”

Madson says being able to play baseball has helped his recovery.

“It’s fun,” he says. “It’s helped me regain my fitness, and it’s fun to be back out here with my friends.”

The Royals have had plenty of success on the diamond, winning Class 2A championships in 2007 and ‘08 and reaching the title game in 2011.

“I think we can do it again this year,” Madson says.

After what he has been through, who’s to argue?

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