How bullying changed one family’s future

Karen Wells
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Trevor Wakely can’t speak clearly. However, he can think and he  communicates with his family through sign language.
He also has a story he recently shared about bullying and how it can change a person’s life.

Using sign language and his mother as an interpreter, he recalled the frustration of being a target of bullies and how that led to an incident that affected him and his family forever.

Trevor didn’t fit the stereotype of a typical target for bullies.

The 17-year-old was athletic, had a girlfriend, was a top-ranking army cadet and was a good high school student. He had been accepted to do an underwater welding program after graduation.

One day in 2006, everything changed. Trevor reached a breaking point and lashed out at a fellow student who, he says, had been verbally abusing him. He hit the other teenager, and that landed him in trouble.

Trevor was suspended from school, banned from Army Cadets and was facing criminal charges.

Eventually he was allowed to return to school, but not without an escort who was with him throughout the day, even in the cafeteria and the washroom. Trevor wasn’t allowed to socialize with his high school friends.

Trevor’s parents, Neil and Connie Wakely, say they didn’t know back then that their son was being bullied.

“He kept it bottled up,” said Neil.

They were surprised by their son’s violent outburst, not realizing the frustration that had been mounting because of the verbal bullying.

“He learned respect and discipline through cadets,” Neil said. “Trevor never got into a fight or caused trouble.”

Trevor said he had a lot of emotions then. He tried to stand up for himself only to land in hot water.

On Oct. 7, 2006, his family found themselves in the middle of a nightmare.

It was three weeks after Trevor had thrown that fateful punch. After being dropped off at home by his girlfriend and her father, Trevor got into his grandmother’s vehicle and drove off into the night without telling anyone where he was going.

He didn’t have a driver’s licence at the time, only a learner’s permit.

He left Brookfield and drove towards Lumsden. It was on a straight stretch of road between Newtown branch and Cape Freels that Trevor’s life took a drastic turn. Speeding along at an estimated 160 kilometres per hour, the vehicle left the road and flipped. He was not wearing a seatbelt and was ejected.

Trevor was unconscious, face down in a bog. A woman on her way home from work that night discovered the wreck. Rescuers were called in but they couldn’t find anyone in or around the vehicle. Everyone stayed quiet so rescuers could listen for any sound. That’s when they heard the gurgling coming from Trevor. He had spent nearly two hours in the bog.

Trevor was transported to Brookfield Hospital; his lungs had collapsed, he had substantial facial injuries with both cheeks crushed, as well as damage to his spine and a brain injury. It’s believed Trevor hit a tree when he was ejected from the vehicle. The outlook was not good.

Trevor was transferred to the hospital in Gander and his family was called. Eventually he was transported to St. John’s.

Neil said doctors in St. John’s didn’t hold out much hope for his son and had initially advised against sending him there, insisting there wasn’t much they could do for him.

“I told them they’ve got to try something,” Neil said.

It was touch and go just to get Trevor stabilized enough to airlift him to St. John’s. He was stabilized but on life support.

“We couldn’t recognize him,” Connie said. “Between the injuries to his face and the air escaping from his body (from his collapsed lungs).”

Eventually, he was stable enough for doctors to perform facial surgery. It took four plates on one side to fix Trevor’s crushed cheek.

Trevor was in a coma. His brain had shifted and doctors told the family it needed time to heal. He remained in the intensive care unit for more than a month, all the while with his parents at his side.

His comatose state was agonizing for the family. They didn’t know if or when he would recover and, if he did, would he be the same Trevor?

Neil said they would talk to him, play music and decorate his room for different holidays. It was seven months and three days before he came out of the coma.

The first thing Trevor can recall upon regaining consciousness is seeing his mother and father.

The positive attitude of his parents was key to his recovery, which included learning sign language. His ability to speak was affected by the tracheotomy procedure.

Trevor has had physical therapy  and is continuing it at home in Grand Falls-Windsor. While he uses a wheelchair, he is able to stand and is working on walking more and more each day. He has endured a number of surgeries since his accident, but is taking it all in stride.

Trevor and his family credit the staff at the medical facilities where he received initial treatment and the followup care that continued for quite some time during his recovery.

While Trevor never thought this would be his future, he is embracing the opportunities before him. He is taking adult basic education classes and is involved with Special Olympics.

The time leading up to the accident and the accident itself are still a bit of a blur to Trevor, but his parents are certain that the bullying and how he was treated after he struck the other teen played a role in his decisions on the night of the accident.

They believe the way the situation was handled, and how Trevor was seen as the aggressor, was too much for him to handle and that he wanted to find a way out of the situation.

“This could have been prevented,” said Connie.

The Wakelys say they hope, through their son’s story, that anyone who is bullying or tormenting anyone else will realize how their actions can affect the other person.

Trevor hopes young people who are being bullied will read his story and realize the possible consequences. He tells those being bullied to “get help and never give up.”

He also shares his motto, which is printed on the bracelet he wears: “Love life, live strong.”

 

The Pilot

Organizations: Army Cadets, Brookfield Hospital

Geographic location: Cape Freels, Gander, Grand Falls-Windsor

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Recent comments

  • Calvin Sanders
    May 17, 2014 - 08:42

    When I was young, I suffered from bullying. I lost my self-esteem disabling me to perform well at school. This is something I don't want my children to suffer. I am now a father of two daughter. Both on high school. I am worried that they might encounter what I experienced before. Good thing I have downloaded an application on our phones. Once you pressed the panic button, it will automatically be connected to a response center that will answer and give immediate help possible 24/7. Me, along with my wife and close friends as my children's safety network, will receive a text message about the incident and their location making us a possible responder too. This app certainly helps me since me and my wife are slightly busy with work. Me and my wife worry less now. This can lessen yours too. Just visit their site to know more about this amazing app: http://safekidzone.com/#!/page_home

  • Judith
    May 12, 2014 - 08:46

    I just happened upon this story and I want to say how the strength of these parents and this young man is so very inspiring! Many of us have been bullied in our lives in some way or another and many of us have 'snapped' in small or big ways. It sounds like Trevor snapped and then was headed down a spiral after losing much more than his dignity. Speeding down the road was perhaps 'an escape' for a few minutes but that ended very badly. I will read Trevor's story to my 13 year old son, who someday may face challenges - just like Trevor did. and as Trevor suggests, I will encourage him to tell someone and to not keep it bottled in. Trevor - your strength and courage are incredible and it sounds like you have awesome parents there with you every step of the way.

  • Jackie
    May 12, 2014 - 07:53

    I truly believe the consequences of bullying and the outcome had everything to do with what unfortunately happened to |Trevor. When someone is bullied and over time it builds up and they finally had enough, they look like the aggressor which is very sad. When they take up for themselves they are the ones disciplined. |There is totally something wrong with how the bully gets the sympathy after what they did. It is totally tragic how this happened to |Trevor and it is up to the parents of the bullies, if there not bullies themselves, to take control and teach their children respect and compassion for others. My son was bullied and when he took a stand for himself saying enough it enough, he was the one disciplined. Once again, it is time for the school officials to get a hand on these type of situations and to discipline the bullies, and not the innocent victims who decide to stand up for themselves. I wish you all the best Trevor both you and your family and much success and happiness in the future. |God Speed