Benefits set this weekend for injured SKHS grad

Bo Ottak and his fiancé Shaun Freeman were engaged May 9 and are planning a July wedding. Ottak was injured Oct. 15 in a one-vehicle col-lision in Utah. - Courtesy Photo
Bo Ottak and his fiancé Shaun Freeman were engaged May 9 and are planning a July wedding. Ottak was injured Oct. 15 in a one-vehicle col-lision in Utah.
— image credit: Courtesy Photo

A pair of benefits are planned this weekend for a Port Orchard native and former South Kitsap High School graduate who was seriously injured in an automobile accident in Utah last month.

Bo Ottak, 21, was driving from Port Orchard to Grand Junction, Colo., where he and his fiance’ Shaun Freeman are living, when the accident occurred Oct. 15.

The benefits are set for Saturday, Nov. 16, from 7 p.m. to midnight at Brother Don’s in Bremerton and on Sunday, Nov. 17, from 3-8 p.m. at Pat’s Little Red Barn in Belfair. Proceeds from the fundraisers will be used to offset Ottak’s medical expenses and donations will be accepted.

Ottak, a merchant marine and the son of Richard Ottak of Allyn and Denyce Ottak of Port Orchard, was traveling eastbound on U.S. Highway 6 when he lost control of his vehicle, crossed the over the opposite lane and collided with a hill and traveled 150 feet before stopping. He was transported by ambulance to Castleview Hospital in Price, Utah, then airlifted to Utah Valley Regional Medical Center in Provo.

The impact of the crash resulted in a L1 burst fracture. Bone fragments from the crushed vertebrae protruded into the spinal cord causing immediate loss of functionality and normal sensation of Ottak’s legs, according to Alisha Freeman, Freeman’s mother.

Ottak and Freeman were engaged May 9 and are planning a July 16 wedding.

Freeman said on Oct. 29 that her daughter reported that Ottak slightly wiggled some of his toes on the right foot, which also was lost after full swelling of the spine set in.

“The sensation that he does have in his legs, feet and toes is inconsistent and abnormal, and involves the tingling/burning pain associated with nerve damage,” Freeman said. “He suffered excruciating back spasms after the accident, which were relieved by a first surgery but brought back with less severity by a second surgery.”

Denyce Ottak said that she and Bo’s father have been to Utah twice to visit their son since the accident.

“His spirit is very good and he’s a tough kid,” she said. “Not everyone can have such high spirits after an incident like this that is life changing at 21. We’re proud of him for facing any challenges the physical therapists have put before him.”

Denyce Ottak said doctors said it could be weeks before the nerves can heal.

“Moving his toe is so exciting to see,” she said.

Ottak, a former SKHS football player, received a posterior fusion to insert two rods and 11 screws to further stabilize the spine, extending the fusion from T10 to L3, which decreased future flexibility slightly more than the first surgery accomplished.

“The intention of the surgeries was only to align and stabilize the spine to ensure he'd have enough strength to support his weight solely with his torso,” Freeman said. “The damage to the spinal cord is irreversible and whether or not the damaged nerves will repair themselves is unknown.”

Freeman said the doctors’ prognosis is that it’s “very unlikely” Ottak will ever regain mobility below the waist.

Ottak has to wear a brace around his back whenever he is sitting upright

“He will have to relearn how to do almost everything,” she said.

Among other things, Ottak will have to learn to be conscious of constantly shifting his weight manually to prevent loss of blood circulation and injury to the areas below the waist that he can't feel.

“Bo has shown incredible resilience throughout the recovery process to date,” Freeman said.

Scheduled performers for the benefits are Craig Dell, Dan Cartwright, Dark Reign, FamiLee, Final Notice, James Hunnicutt, Joe Faker, Less Paulish, Mathes and Company, Necks ta Nutten, Rhythm and Sass and Urban Sage. A silent auction is planned for Saturday’s event and a live auction on Sunday in Belfair with auctioneer Lanny Brown.

Brother Don’s is located at 4200 Kitsap Way in Bremerton and Pat’s Little Red Barn is at 2091 Washington 300 in Belfair.


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