THE LONG ROAD TO RECOVERY
Life is full of twists and turns, but former NCC security officer Phillip Jones never imagined being in a place where he now finds himself—a wheelchair.
A recreational motorcycle accident a little over a year ago left the now 23-year-old East Orange resident in a coma and with multiple injuries, including a fractured skull, spinal cord damage, trauma to his right leg, bleeding on the brain, broken ribs and a punctured lung.
“When I first had the accident, I wasn’t able to move anything,” Jones recalled, noting the accident happened on the Newark-East Orange border while out riding with two fellow members of a local motorcycle club called the Black Spades. “When I woke up from the coma and realized what was going on, I was angry,” he continued. “I had five surgeries and was hospitalized for five months. My mother was my most important support through it all. She never gave up hope.”
His father had been killed in a motorcycle accident when he was only five years old and now here was Jones, on a respirator, fighting for his own life. His mom, Debra Jones, continued to pray, however, and eventually her son’s condition did improve to the point where he could be transferred out of the hospital.
“Phillip has been through a lot, but I think he has handled everything well, especially for someone his age,” she said.
NCC Security Director Prentiss Thompson also had nothing but praise for Jones.
“He’s a great man and was a good officer,” he said about his two years on the NCC security force.
From Newark’s University Hospital, Jones began the grueling process of rehabilitation at Kessler Institute in West Orange, where he underwent three months of daily physical and occupational therapy as an inpatient before becoming an outpatient. He learned things like how to sit with no back support and independently transfer from his wheelchair to a bed.
One of the most important lessons he has learned during the healing process is that not everyone who appears to be a friend really is your friend.
“Since I don’t go out like I used to, people have disappeared. But you’ve got to be strong and not worry about who says what and who does what at the end of the day. It’s not about them, it’s about you and you have to keep believing,” said Jones, who has also studied automotive mechanics and used to enjoy fixing cars when he was not working his security job.
And Jones still does believe, in God and in himself. He still can’t move his legs and must get around in a wheelchair. He does go on outings, like to the mall or a movie. He is also thinking about enrolling in college, perhaps to study short films.
His anger has turned to gratefulness—he is glad simply to be alive—and he no longer asks, “Why me?”
“I have faith in my God that it was meant to be. I am going to walk, but right now I am comfortable with my situation,” he said.