U of U player making speedy recovery after sustaining critical injuries

Posted at 10:22 PM, Mar 06, 2014
and last updated 2014-03-07 00:22:57-05

SALT LAKE CITY --- A University of Utah football player critically injured in a scooter crash is making a fast recovery, and he talked exclusively with FOX 13 News from his hospital bed.

Moana Ofahengaue is walking and talking. He's been upgraded from critical to good condition after suffering a head injury during a moped accident. 

"Definitely ready to go home," Ofahengaue said.

That’s a strong statement considering just 11 days ago he was unresponsive. Photos provided by his mother show Moana Ofahengaue right after his accident. He is wearing a device to stabilize his head and monitor his brain for swelling.

"It was just fractured ear to ear on the back of my head," Moana Ofahengaue said.

"It was scary definitely," his mother, Carey, added.

"The first 48 hours I wasn't sure he was going to make it," his father Tevita said

"I broke down into tears when I saw this guy laying there,” his mom said. “We didn't know. He wasn't awake yet. We didn't know how his brain would be."

They were uncertain if he'd be paralyzed or if he would suffer permanent brain damage after an accident on a moped near his dorm on February 23.

"A car pulled out in front of me,” Ofahengaue said. “When I missed it, the wheel swerved and I flipped off of it [the moped]."

He wasn't wearing a helmet and hit his head on the pavement. However, “the doctors I think are very impressed with his recovery and so far what he's been able to do," his mother said.

Ofahengaue can not only walk and talk, his parents said they've had to hide his shoes to keep him from running! He was a star defensive lineman at West Lake High School and joined the Utes this season. He's determined to play football again.

"The doctors are saying they don't know if they want to suggest ever going back to head-to-head contact, but I'll definitely be back soon," Ofahengaue said.

"I would love for him to get back on the field, maybe not this year," his dad said.

"There's still brain damage, it's time I have to wait for, to heal," Ofahengaue said.

"I'm hoping he's gonna take his time to heal that's for sure but if that's something he wants to do in the future then, we'll see," his mother said.

"Right now, I just can't wait to get back,” Ofahengaue added. “That's like the only thing I'm thinking about, how bad I want to be on the field, and it's more than how bad this hurts."

Meanwhile, Ofahengaue said the accident has changed his life. While his long-term prognosis is unknown, he said he's truly learned to appreciate life's blessings and hopes to leave University of Utah Hospital in a week and continue physical therapy with his family at home in Lehi.