Real Life Stories

Isaiah Krull’s Story

Isaiah was in a coma for 10 days following his crash. Photo courtesy of Isaiah Krull.
Isaiah was in a coma for 10 days
following his crash. Photo courtesy of Isaiah Krull.

It was only a mile or so to the next farm field. Two years ago, when Isaiah Krull, then 16, climbed into the back seat of his friend’s car on the way to the next detasseling job, he thought, “I don’t need to wear a seat belt; it’s only a mile or so.” When Isaiah woke up several weeks later in the hospital, memories of the crash that nearly took his life were shady at best.

Isaiah and his two friends had been detasseling corn near the northeast Iowa town of Reinbeck. It was a hot, dusty day when the car with the three teens finished one field and prepared to move on to the next. Isaiah said, “The other two got in the front seat and put on their seat belts because that was the law. Since I was in the back seat, I didn’t put mine on because I didn’t have to.”

Isaiah suffered severe head trauma as a passenger in a friend's car that collided with a converted school bus. Photo courtesy of Isaiah Krull.
Isaiah suffered severe head trauma as a passenger in a friend’s car that collided with a converted school bus. Photo courtesy of Isaiah Krull.

On the way to the next field, the dust was so thick the driver never saw the converted school bus, until it was too late. Isaiah said the front seat passenger in the vehicle instinctively put his head between his legs, just as the window above him was shattered and the top half of the car severed. “That saved his life,” said Isaiah. “I bounced around the back seat and ended up with many injuries, but I was lucky to be alive. I think I’m alive today to share the message that everyone needs to wear a seat belt, no matter where you are in the car and no matter how old you are.”

Isaiah, a 220-pound football player at the time of the crash, thought restraints in the back seat were only for children. “I always thought little kids should wear seat belts. It is easy to see where they might be thrown around if they didn’t have seat belts. But I thought I was too big for that. I was wrong.” Upon impact with the bus, Isaiah’s body was projected forward, tossing him toward his friends. The roof of the car came down and sent him back to the back seat. When emergency responders arrived at the scene, he was airlifted to Covenant Hospital in Waterloo, where he remained briefly; and then he was airlifted to Iowa City due to the severity of his brain injury.

Once he regained consciousness following the crash, Isaiah was in the hospital for several more months. Photo courtesy of Isaiah Krull.
Once he regained consciousness following the crash, Isaiah was in the hospital for several more months. Photo courtesy of Isaiah Krull.

He said, “My injuries were caused by flying around during the crash and hitting my head. If I had been wearing a seat belt that day, I probably would have been fine, just like the driver.”

As a result of the crash, Isaiah suffered a fractured right cheek and severe traumatic brain injury. He spent 10 days in a coma, a month in the Iowa City Children’s Hospital, and then another two and a half months at a rehabilitation clinic in Chicago where he had to relearn to walk and talk. For much of that time, he was fed through a feeding tube. “They told my parents that they didn’t think I would ever be able to do much,” said Isaiah, now a student at Hawkeye Community College. “I know God saved my life that day. Now I can help get the word out that seat belts do save lives.”

During his rehabilitation, Isaiah  had to relearn basic skills like eating, walking and talking. Photo courtesy of Isaiah Krull.
During his rehabilitation, Isaiah had to relearn basic skills like eating, walking and talking. Photo courtesy of Isaiah Krull.

Isaiah joined lawmakers, law enforcement officers and Iowa DOT officials to promote stricter seat belt laws. On July 1, a new restriction was put in place that all individuals under age 18 must be restrained regardless of vehicle seating position. But Isaiah isn’t done yet. “This was a first step,” he said, “The next time around the law needs to be for everyone, including adults, to wear seat belts. I don’t want anyone to have to go through what I’ve been through.”