Surviving the Crash: Man in Hwy 16 crash has emergency brain sur - WXOW News 19 La Crosse, WI – News, Weather and Sports |

Surviving the Crash: Man in Hwy 16 crash has emergency brain surgery

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LA CRESCENT, Minnesota (WXOW) – The man accused of causing a car crash on Hwy 16 near La Crescent, Minn. Thursday appeared in court Monday morning.

Minnesota State Patrol said John Mullen, 24, crossed the center line on Hwy 16, striking two cars. He then tried to escape the scene by stealing the car of a man who stopped to help.

Mullen registered a .221 on a preliminary breath test, according to the criminal complaint. That's nearly three times the legal limit.

State Patrol said they administered a blood test and are waiting for the results.

Matt Woods, 19, of La Crescent, was one of the drivers seriously injured in the crash.

"(It was) kind of a roller coaster of consciousness," Woods said about Thursday.

He can't remember most of the day.

"I pulled a wad of sock out from behind my head, which is what Lance (Welsh) had put there for me to try to stanch the bleeding off, and that confused me a lot," Woods said.

He had blood coming out of the back of his head and needed emergency brain surgery.

"I'm looking at my son, who's awake on an emergency room table, and he's glittering with fragments of glass all over. And there's glass all over the emergency room floor from all his windshields," said Karen Woods, Matt's mom.

Woods had a quarter-sized piece of skull pressed into his head and bone shards piercing part of his brain.

"The doctors told me about a half inch in any other direction and it wouldn't have been quite the same story," Woods said.

But part of that story is Lance Welsh. A passerby who stopped and clotted Woods' wound and kept him awake until an ambulance came.

"I don't think anyone who saw what I saw would have (driven) through that without feeling guilty about not stopping," Welsh said.

Then he realized he was even more a part of the story.

"Somebody said, ‘Is that your car down there?' I said, ‘That's a white one. That's not mine. Mine's black.' So then I go, ‘Where's that other guy (Mullen)?' And right when I said, ‘Where's that other guy,' it clicked."

Mullen, the man accused of causing the crash, took Welsh's car and fled.

"For the first day there that was harder for me to grasp than the fact that I just had brain surgery," Woods said.

Matt also couldn't grasp that he couldn't remember the man who helped save his life.

A Facebook search led his family to Welsh's sister, and Lance showed up at the hospital.

"And I just broke down, and he just held me, and I sobbed and he sobbed," Karen Welsh said.

"If I happened to be in that accident, in that situation – it's just something you do," Welsh said.

Matt Woods is just grateful he did something.

"Just thank you a million times, he said.

Woods said he doesn't plan to be driving for a while. When he's cleared to and wants to get back behind the wheel, a family friend is hoping to raise enough money to buy him a replacement car.

She started a "Go Fund Me" account. If you want to help Woods get a car, click here.

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