“I remember your dad calling me, Connor, and he got a call from someone on site there,” Gruninger said, recalling the part of the episode that Fields hadn’t heard. “He said: ‘Connor isn’t breathing. They had to build an airway for him.’ And then your dad’s like: ‘Wait, they’re calling back. I have to go.'”
In Tokyo, Dr. Finoff was at the Olympic Village when the messages arrived.
“When I saw the accident on TV, my first thought was, Oh my god, not only did he drop his head in the asphalt, but I wonder if he broke his neck, and is now a tetraplegic,” Dr. Finoff said. “Finding out that his neck isn’t broken and that he’s moving his arms and legs was really great news.”
Dr. Finoff visited Fields in the emergency room of St. Luke’s International Hospital.
“I had to compulsively yell at him to open his eyes,” Dr. Finoff said. “I could have asked him to say his name, but almost immediately he closed his eyes. He didn’t know exactly what was going on. He didn’t know where he was. He couldn’t tell me anything “
Having any reaction was a good sign, Dr. Finoff said. CT scan and MRI assessed damage. Dr. Finoff was relieved to learn that there was no internal bleeding beyond the brain. Fields had a broken rib and a torn lung, and severe bruises and bruises.
Dr. Finoff said, “There are many other things he could have had.”
For Gruninger, the first few days were painful. He tried not to think about the worst – death, paralysis, permanent brain damage.
It was three days after the wreck when his phone buzzed, saying that Connor Fields wanted to FaceTime. She didn’t know what to expect. He looked back at her.
“I could tell you were nervous and tired,” Gruninger told Fields in his kitchen. “But I could also tell that was you.”