‘Its not just a patient, but someone’s son’: Texas A&M student recovers from snowboarding accident

KBTX News 3 at Six Weekday EXTENDED(Recurring)
Published: Oct. 5, 2022 at 6:34 PM CDT
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COLLEGE STATION, Texas (KBTX) - Back in January of 2022, Brad Gowan’s life changed forever. Nine months later though, he managed to beat all the odds.

Brad Gowan is a senior at Texas A&M University who spends his time involved with StuMo (Student Mobilization), studying for a Biomedical Science degree and hanging out with his fraternity.

Last January, Brad and a group of his StuMo friends decided to take a trip to Keystone, Colorado. During the trip, the group took part in snow activities like snowboarding and grew in fellowship.

On Jan. 9, Gowan was expecting it to be a ‘normal’ day on the slopes. After a Bible study, Gowan got his snowboarding gear and went straight to a challenging hill with moguls. That’s where the catastrophic event occurred.

“If the Ski Patrol got here even five minutes later...I probably would be either brain dead or dead,” said Gowan. “I had hit the tree. I was kind of between two trees. Everything went black.”

Gowan said his friends were only seconds behind him when he lost control. He doesn’t remember, but someone had to bring him out of all the snow he was unconscious under.

“I was seizing every 30 seconds for five seconds. I had to be flown to St. Anthony’s hospital in Lakewood, which is about an hour away. Thankfully that hospital is known to know how to take care of patients with the extensive brain injuries I had,” Gowan said.

When his parents received the call, they prayed for a miracle, which they say was answered. Brad spent almost four weeks fighting for his life at the Level 1 Trauma Center. Afterwards he was allowed to fly back to his hometown, Houston, for extensive rehabilitation.

One major part in Brad’s recovery was going to the Memorial Hermann TIRR Challenge Program. That’s where Speech Language Pathologist, Veronica Garcia-Lechuga, joined Gowan’s journey.

“On paper it was quite daunting to see the level of help he needed,” said Garcia-Lechuga. “As far as memory, thinking and problem solving. We knew it was going to be a hard job. For not only Brad, but his family.”

Garcia-Lechuga told KBTX seeing Brad surpass their expectations so quickly, from the beginning of when he showed up to TIRR until now, is unthinkable. She said the goal right when Brad stepped foot at TIRR was to get back to Texas A&M for school in the fall.

“As a mom, it hits harder... You know, when you personalize those interactions,” said Garcia-Lechuga. “When you realize, he’s not just a patient but someone’s son. I mean it just gets you. We are so proud of Brad for sticking in there through the program.”

After 16 weeks of rehab with the program, he was cleared to head back to school.

Even though Gowan is back in College Station, he still is recovering from everything he had to go through and takes it all day-by-day.

“I’ve got to study a lot. Yes, I’m only in one class but it feels like I’m in five,” he said. “So, I need to work hard at that. But, at the same time I want to do things that are meaningful to me, like spending time with my friends.”

He told KBTX there would have been no way he could’ve done it without his strong relationship with God.

He will continue with his Biomedical Science major until he graduates but said his plan for after college changed after the accident. Gowan wants to travel across the world to help others in need through fellowship.

One piece of advice for anyone going through a catastrophic accident, he said, is to always listen to your therapists.

“What was likely to happen and to see where I’m out now and what I went through... I have one word to explain it all. Thankfulness,” Gowan said. “Praise God because he’s what allowed me to be where I am today.”