[KHTS] – A Santa Clarita Valley family is praying for their 16-year-old son’s recovery, after Canyon High junior Justin Covarrubias was seriously injured in a recent motocross crash in Rialto.
“It’s been a living nightmare — it’s awful,” said Jamie Covarrubias, Justin’s mother. “Everybody’s whole world is being turned upside down.”
Justin competed in four races Sept. 28, and around 4:30 p.m., Justin’s father saw something was amiss during his son’s last race on the Milestone MX track when he could no longer find him on the track during the race.
The family is still unclear on exactly how Justin became injured because he was riding alongside several others when his bike went down.
The crash didn’t look too bad at first and there was no collision on the track, according to witnesses, Jamie Covarrubias said. However, Justin was immediately taken to Arrowhead Regional Hospital, and after a CT Scan revealed spinal injuries, he was taken to Loma Linda.
Justin sustained a minor head injury, which doctors believe they were able to repair in surgery. However, more troubling were injuries Justin sustained to his spinal cord, his mother said.
The T-5 and T-6 vertebrae in the middle of his back were broken in the crash and, as of now, Justin has no feeling below his waist and a 3 percent chance of walking again.
“He could be the 3 percent,” Jamie Covarrubias said, “but the odds are against him. They haven’t had a chance to awaken him and (perform tests).”
There is still some uncertainty because Justin has had several complications since his hospitalization, she said.
After Justin was transferred to a specialized facility in Loma Linda due to the severity of his injuries, he came down with severe pneumonia because of his weakened immune system.
The illness left Justin in need of a breathing tube and the breathing tube led to a throat infection.
As a result, Justin has been heavily medicated and it’s been impossible for doctors to fully assess the extent of her son’s injuries, she said.
She described Justin as a good student who rides practically every weekend and doesn’t party much.
Justin picked up the motocross bug from his father at a young age, Jamie Covarrubias said. He learned how to balance on a bike at age 2, and by age 4 he was competing for fun and trophies with other kids, she said.
Justin’s 10-year-old brother set up a GiveForward page to help the family called “Pray for Justin 110,” which was a reference to his racing number.
“He has school and it’s been tough on him,” Jamie Covarrubias said, referring to her youngest. “He’s been having a lot of anxiety.”
The page has already raised $6,930 after a $5,000 goal, which has been a great help to the family because they’ve constantly had to spend so many nights in a hotel, and they’re not sure when Justin will be able to come home.
In the meantime, the family has been commuting 100 miles to see Justin and taking time off work to stay with him, while Justin’s grandmother stays with the teen’s younger brother, Jamie Covarrubias said.
“It’s just awful,” Jamie Covarrubias said, “but at the same time, I thank God that I have him because it could have been worse, because I still have him.”