As many walk across the stage at their high school graduations, a WNY man is reflecting on his big day, because it was a major milestone in his life. Ten years ago, Matt Faulkner walked across the stage to receive his diploma from West Seneca West High School, but it was a moment that almost didn’t happen.
“I wish I knew back then not to worry so much about how my life would turn out,” Faulkner said to a group of graduating West Seneca West seniors. “I also wish I knew how happy I would be 10 years later.”
On Monday, Faulkner spoke to graduating seniors from his alma mater. He was there to tell his inspiring story of survival after a terrible car crash almost claimed his life in 2009. He also talked about his own graduation, which came just 12 days after he was released from the hospital after the crash.
“Mrs. Shebring, who I think many of you know, bravely walked behind me as I crossed the stage, because I had just re-learned how to walk just a few weeks earlier,” he told the seniors.
In March of 2009, just months before he was set to graduate, Faulkner was in the backseat of a car with three of his friends. The driver of the car made a left hand turn onto Transit Road, from New Bullis Road, in Elma. That’s when a truck hit the car in the exact spot Faulkner was siting. All of his friends were able to walk away from the crash safely, but Faulkner was air-lifted to ECMC.
“I suffered from a severe traumatic brain injury, and I was left in a deep coma… struggling for my life for awhile.”
Faulkner woke up from the coma about six weeks later. In all, he spent 103 days in the hospital.
“People who have severe traumatic brain injury and are in a coma for more than one month, only have a 20 percent chance of survival, and less than half of the survivors live an independent life.”
But Faulkner worked hard to beat those odds. News 4 cameras were there as he graduated from Canisius College in 2013, after just three years.
And then seven years ago, he got a job at NRG Energy in Cheektowaga, where he still works today. He’s now married, has a house, and even has plans to adopt a baby.
And when asked what pushed him through everything, and how he’s made it to where he is today, he thanks hard work and a strong support system.
“I have a lot of great family and friends, and resources, and I have great doctors, and I really was motivated to achieve what I had planned before the accident, as best as I could.”