Escalante battles to recover following accident

Red Devil standout athlete Pablo Escalante (7), waves to the crowd after being acknowledged in the starting lineup during Red Devil soccer “Senior Day,” with senior teammates Andrik Cortez (8) and Weston Wiley (10). (HERALD PHOTO/Mark Madia)

EVANSTON — ““He walked today. He walked a whole block and it was really hard with the headache he had but he’s moving,” Maria Escalante said of her son, Pablo. Not the words you would expect to hear about a three-sport, all-state, all-conference standout athlete from the EHS graduating class of 2019. But a tragic accident can turn someone’s world upside-down in an instant, and that’s just what happended to Escalante during a senior class party, when he suffered life-threat​en​ing injuries from an ATV accident.​

#PabloStrong​ tells the story from a mother’s perspective: “If you know Pablo Escalante, you know two things: He is a strong and tough athlete and he has a kind heart and a big smile, willing to give the shirt off his back for anyone, all while worrying his help may not be enough.

On Sunday morning, May 26, Pablo was severely injured while a passenger on an ATV. He was life-flighted to the University of Utah Hospital where he endured over three hours of extensive cosmetic repair to his facial areas. He faces many future surgeries as he recovers from massive injuries. These injuries include two broken vertebrae in his neck, a severely broken cheek bone, a nose broken in multiple locations and the skin around his cheek and eyelid are severely lacerated.

He is extremely lucky to be alive and his family is grateful for the efforts of everyone who got him to where he is today. We thank everyone for reaching out to the family and appreciate the kind gestures from everyone, far and wide. Pablo has along road ahead and while these will be extremely tough, life-changing challenges, we all know that he will be a little tougher.”

And in an online update in a mother’s own words:

“Hey all. First, we are so very thankful for the outpouring of love and caring. This is truly a blessing for Pablo and family, knowing the impact and joy that Pablo has brought to the community. We honestly do not know how to say thank you enough. Pablo is starting to get back to being himself, being a little smart aleck to his mom, aunts, friends, sister, doctors and nurses. 

Pablo Escalante received great news in that he will not require any extensive surgery to his neck, nor will he have to wear a halo. Instead, he will be in a brace for several months, restricting his movement for not only the break but the extensive ligament damage around the neck. 

The other breaks around his facial region are more complex, but for right now, those are being left alone. His nose is broken in a couple places, so he might get that repaired as early as next week. 

Contrary to some rumors, Pablo did not lose an no pirate patch needed, although we do feel he would have rocked that look (think Mexican Thor people, come on). His eyelid was severely damaged, but that was able to be reattached by the excellent surgeons at the University of Utah trauma center, along with the rest of the side of his face. While he will have a few awesome scars, he will have full use of both eyes. Ironically, it was discovered that he has a Red Color Blindness, which does explain some errant passes during specific soccer matches and a few hits on teammates during football games. 

Everyone involved knows that this is quite honestly a miracle on many fronts. We do not take for granted any of the love and support from the community, friends and family. They say it takes a village to raise a child; however, it also requires a community to overcome such a tragic accident and while recovery will be a long, hard process, we are confident that with our community, Pablo will be back to spreading his style of love in no time.”

“He is so lucky, so lucky to be alive,” Maria Escalante told the Herald.

“He’s doing better and I marvel at the progress he’s made. His strength amazes me. He is so positive,” Escalante shared.

The accident and the process of beginning to recover have had life-changing effects on Escalante. He knew he wanted to continue to play soccer at the college or junior college level but  that was about the extent of his future plans, with  nothing in particular specified.

“It’s surprising, not only how positive he is but how his plans have changed,” Escalante said.

“He has a different mentality now. He’s got plans and goals,” Escalante said

Escalante is primarily focused on his recovery and “becoming the person he was,” as much as is possible, but he now knows he wants to attend college, get a degree and perhaps play competive soccer again. 

“He truly believes that he’s going to,” his mother said.

His mother also admires his determination but is concerned her son may try to overdo it, approaching his recovery with the same vigor he brought to football, wrestling and soccer.

“Oh, he’ll push himself too hard, he’s a kid,” Escalante said.

“The doctor said he’s got to do everyday things and Pablo will have to learn patience but his attitude is so positive. He will make it through this, he will, but it’s going to be very hard,” Escalante added.

An account to assist the Escalante family with medical bills and other associated costs to Pablo’s recovery has been set up at First Bank under the account name “Pablo Strong” where donations will be accepted. There is also an online account where donations can be made through Venmo, under the name @maria-escalante-24


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