Young Nebraska Cowboy holds strong
A Valentine, Neb. boy has been injured in a utility vehicle accident.
Jennings Morgan, age twelve, was hurt while moving cows on his dad’s ranch near Valentine on September 27.
The boy has multiple skull fractures, a broken orbital bone, broken bones in his sinuses, and other lacerations.
His paternal granddad was following him on another vehicle when Jennings went over a hill to chase cows and didn’t return. He was found unconscious with the utility vehicle tipped over. He was taken to the Valentine hospital and life flighted to a hospital in Omaha, where he remains.
His mom, Katie Jo Morgan, didn’t know how many skull fractures there were, but doctors told her “there were a lot,” she said. The fractures were a blessing, in a way, giving room for his brain to swell. A piece of his skull was removed to allow for more space for swelling. That piece was placed under the fat in his abdomen, a safe place where the body does not reject it, so it can be replaced when the swelling diminishes.
The muscle that causes his right eye to blink has been cut, and he has a laceration from his right ear across his face to his left brow. He also has broken bones throughout the sinuses. A facial surgeon will work on those issues after the swelling has diminished.
The son of Tyler Morgan and Katie Jo Morgan, Jennings is an “outdoors kid,” his mom said. “He loves to ranch and loves tractors.” Tyler said, “he’s a joy to be around, in any situation. For his age, he is very responsible and mature.” This past summer, he had taken a deeper interest in roping, spending days at his mom’s workplace, Bordertown Arena in Kilgore, riding horses at the arena and roping. “All summer with me, he was riding, roping, and cleaning stalls. In the off weeks, he’d go with his dad and do the day-to-day ranching,” Katie Jo said.
Jennings also accompanied his mom at her other part-time job, on the Dennis Bammerlin ranch east of Valentine. This spring, when COVID-19 hit, he worked at the ranch, helping with branding, sorting pairs and working cows.
At his dad’s ranch, Jennings loves the machinery and has been running a hydroswing mower for three years. He’s also been learning to drive a semi-truck. He is the fifth generation of Morgans on his dad’s side, to be on the family ranch and is named after his great-great-grandfather.
A sixth grader at Valentine Community School, Jennings has befriended a “new kid” at school, Katie Jo said. After Jennings’ accident, the boy’s mom texted Katie, relaying that her son had said that Jennings was the boy’s “best and only friend since they moved to Valentine.”
Jennings has wrestled since age four, and this year decided not to do football so he could spend more time roping. “His goal is to go to the big team ropings someday,” she said.
After brain swelling goes down, the next step will be surgery on his face and eyelid muscle. He’s on a ventilator and feeding tube, but Katie can see progress already, as swelling has lessend in his face. The last step will be the replacement of the piece of skull that is being stored in his abdomen. Eventually, he’ll be transported to Madonna Rehabilitation Center in Lincoln, Neb.
Doctors won’t know how badly his brain injury is till they can do an MRI, Katie Jo said. If there is one large area of damage, he could have disabilities. If it is a bunch of smaller areas of damage, scattered over a large area, that’s better, she said. “Then it’s likely the brain will heal itself and he’ll return to normal.” Doctors have told her brain injuries take a lot of time and rest to heal.
Support for Jennings, his parents and his younger brother, Tee, and older sister, Courtny, have been “unreal,” she said. “There are so many people praying. He has a huge fan club.
“It’s amazing and greatly appreciated. I didn’t ever expect anything like this, from anybody.
People “love Jennings,” she said. “I don’t know how I’ll ever repay anyone. It’s amazing.”
Facebook posts on Jennings’ progress can be found at Bordertown Arena, Kilgore, NE.
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