Still on Two Feet ı A Hit and Run Cannot Keep this Runner Down

March 13, 2014  •  Leave a Comment

RunWashington: Still on 2 Feet

{nothing can keep Nick Nguyen down}

{I'm not going to re-write the RunWashington story (pages 46-47) in my blog.  What's that old saying - I am not going to recreate the atom?  I do encourage you to read that story, as it's incredible, inspiring, and from a totally different point of view.  I have included screenshots of the story at the bottom of this blog entry.}

 

{this is my version - and experience - of Nick Nguyen's story and continuing recovery process}

While I don't really have an expectation when I meet most people I'm photographing for the first time, Nick - and his story - really caught me off guard.  I generally get a "one-liner" of the story so I can decide which gear I need and do the whole, you know, creative process thing. 

The one-liner for this story was: "The guy you're shooting was hit by a car while running in Chinatown."  If you're a photographer, you know what goes through your head: "Sounds bad.  Sounds painful.  Sheesh, I'm glad he's ok.  I've got my plan; let's shoot."

With the wind chill, I'm pretty sure it was around 15 degrees fahrenheit that night.  On the way there, I concocted ways to convince him to get into running clothing that would be appropriate for Fall weather, since the accident was in November: "I'll work as quickly as possible," or play to the ego with, "Oh, it's not THAT cold!  Come on!"  I have quite a few photographer's tricks up my sleeve.  This isn't my first rodeo.

runwashington, "run washington", Car accident, victim, hospital, "hit and run", "washington hospital center", "washington dc", washington, dc, boy, male, runner, running, crosswalk, injury, injured, surgery, "brain surgery", miracle, alive, ran, "red light" november, 2013

I'd just parked and was about to set up for the shoot when Charlie (the editor-in-chief of RunWashington Magazine), Nick, and his mom joined me at the corner of 9th and H Street NW.  Nick was bundled up, but immediately offered to take his layers off and put on his running shoes (which offer pretty much no protection from the frigid concrete).  

"What can I do for you?  Where would you like me to go?" Nick asked me.

"How still can you stand?"  I have no doubt that to a runner who was being photographed for a running magazine, that sounded like a funny question.  

I doubt that was what he was expecting, but he trusted me and did exactly as he was told:  

runwashington, "run washington", Car accident, victim, hospital, "hit and run", "washington hospital center", "washington dc", washington, dc, boy, male, runner, running, crosswalk, injury, injured, surgery, "brain surgery", miracle, alive, ran, "red light" november, 2013

Being asked to stand perfectly still for a full minute is not easy.  Breathing is pretty much out.  Hiccups?  Game over.  

I checked the photos for focus (so, to see if Nick moved at all - haha) before calling it.  I've never had to take so few shots!  He was like a statue!

Afterward, I was given a brief summary of Nick's story - I say brief because I am sure that the version I heard could not even touch what Nick actually went through, and continues to go through, on his path to recovery.  The time, effort, and energy that Nick, and everyone who loves him, has gone through is probably beyond measure.  

But, I digress.

Nick works for the International Medical Corps as an Emergency Response Officer.  Basically, he and his coworkers save lives for a living.  His life is dedicated to helping others.  Everyone he works with spends pretty much every waking hour making the lives of others better.

While out for an evening run in November 2013, Nick was hit in a crosswalk by a driver who ran a red light in Chinatown (at the corner where I was breaking down my gear as I listened).  The driver didn't even look back to see if Nick was alive.  

If you listen to Nick tell the story or see the pictures that his family took during his recovery (a few of which I've included at the bottom of this post), we are all lucky he is.  

He was in the hospital for 26 days and has no memory of about three weeks - starting a few days before the accident, which isn't surprising, given that his skull was broken in multiple places.  

I hope that, even if the driver isn't ever apprehended, he/she made positive life change after this accident. 

runwashington, "run washington", Car accident, victim, hospital, "hit and run", "washington hospital center", "washington dc", washington, dc, boy, male, runner, running, crosswalk, injury, injured, surgery, "brain surgery", miracle, alive, ran, "red light" november, 2013©Sara Alepin (Photos from the Harty). Unauthorized use or reproduction is prohibited, with the sole exception of reposting in Facebook (please copy and paste this copyright notice with it). www.PhotosFromTheHarty.com

Though Nick's recovery still continues, I am happy to report that he was able to run in the Lil' Leprechaun Leap, his first race since November on March 9th!  His goal is to be ready for the Cherry Blossoms 10-miler this spring and to finish in under 10 minutes per mile.  

What can I say?  Nick Nguyen is a champ!

And, he has maybe the most positive attitude of anyone I've ever met.  Really.  He was more interested in my story than telling his own story.  Let's be honest, I'm not that interesting!  Seriously, though, I was so genuinely thanked for my time and have since been treated with so much respect and kindness by Nick.  

On the way home, I thought about what I'd learned and ways I could implement some of Nick's characteristics into my own life; I think we could all benefit from that.

Here are some of the other photos I took during this shoot, which, again, was VERY abbreviated because I couldn't bear to make Nick stand in the cold any longer than needed and - well, I knew I had the shot.

runwashington, "run washington", Car accident, victim, hospital, "hit and run", "washington hospital center", "washington dc", washington, dc, boy, male, runner, running, crosswalk, injury, injured, surgery, "brain surgery", miracle, alive, ran, "red light" november, 2013 runwashington, "run washington", Car accident, victim, hospital, "hit and run", "washington hospital center", "washington dc", washington, dc, boy, male, runner, running, crosswalk, injury, injured, surgery, "brain surgery", miracle, alive, ran, "red light" november, 2013

I encourage you to read the RunWashington story and check out some of the photos of his recovery.  It still gives me goosebumps.  

I also have to give a big shout out to Nick's mom, who is such a sweetheart.  I was really lucky to meet here at the shoot and still smile every time I think of her.  I haven't met the rest of his friends and family, but I am certain they are all amazing!

 

{Nick gave me his permission to include some of the photos taken during the beginning of his recovery}

Car accident, victim, hospital, hit and run, washington hospital center, washington dc, washington, dc, boy, male, runner, running, crosswalk, injury, injured, surgery Car accident, victim, hospital, hit and run, washington hospital center, washington dc, washington, dc, boy, male, runner, running, crosswalk, injury, injured, surgery Car accident, victim, hospital, hit and run, washington hospital center, washington dc, washington, dc, boy, male, runner, running, crosswalk, injury, injured, surgery Car accident, victim, hospital, hit and run, washington hospital center, washington dc, washington, dc, boy, male, runner, running, crosswalk, injury, injured, surgery Car accident, victim, hospital, hit and run, washington hospital center, washington dc, washington, dc, boy, male, runner, running, crosswalk, injury, injured, surgery Car accident, victim, hospital, hit and run, washington hospital center, washington dc, washington, dc, boy, male, runner, running, crosswalk, injury, injured, surgery

Here is the story in this month's RunWashington:

runwashington, "run washington", Car accident, victim, hospital, "hit and run", "washington hospital center", "washington dc", washington, dc, boy, male, runner, running, crosswalk, injury, injured, surgery, "brain surgery", miracle, alive, ran, "red light" november, 2013 runwashington, "run washington", Car accident, victim, hospital, "hit and run", "washington hospital center", "washington dc", washington, dc, boy, male, runner, running, crosswalk, injury, injured, surgery, "brain surgery", miracle, alive, ran, "red light" november, 2013

I've got to give RunWashington a HUGE thanks for allowing me to be part of their amazing and inspiring stories.


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Photos from the Harty, a team of lifestyle, wedding, and event photographers. We love capturing moments and telling your stories! If you like what you read and like what you see, please reach out to us.  We look forward to meeting you!

xo,

Sara, Katie + the Photos from the Harty team

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