Lincoln, NE NAP Artist beats the odds after car accident

After 29-year-old Sam Decker got into a traffic accident last summer, after coming out of a 10-day coma, after the doctors told him he had a severe brain injury, he learned there was a lot he wouldn't be able to do again.

Or so they said.

 "They were telling me I probably wouldn't be able to do this and that I wouldn't be able to do that," he said. "It made me want to do it more."

In the accident, Decker suffered a diffuse axonal injury, widespread damage across the brain. The outcome for this type of injury is usually coma, with 90 percent of those with severe DAI never waking up. The majority of those who do wake up are significantly impaired.

A very select few, like Decker, recover to a normal life.

Some of the things the doctors told him he wouldn't be able to do weren't too big a loss. But the one thing he didn't want to lose was drawing.

Before the accident, Decker was a prolific filler of sketchbooks, illustrating detailed pieces with a comic book bent. During his recovery at Madonna Rehabilitation Hospital, Decker worked to get back the dexterity in his hand. He had to start with one of those big, fat pencils, something he could grip.

Months later, he could draw again. And well.

His mother, Diane Osborne, who works for Lincoln Water System, saw that the city was holding an art contest for city employees and their children, the third annual National Arts Program Contest. She submitted some of his work since the accident.

And then, on the one-year anniversary of the day her son came out of a coma, Osborne got the call that Decker had placed second in his age range in the contest for his drawing called "Fire Ryder." And she couldn't stop crying.

"He's always been a very good artist," Osborne said of her son. "But he's more focused now. He's more driven. He just sits there, and this beautiful stuff comes out."