‘One day at a time.’ Horace man thrown from motorcycle by erratic driver shares story of survival, resilience

Published: Sep. 23, 2022 at 6:04 PM CDT
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HORACE, N.D. (Valley News Live) - Life is much different than Eric O’Meara ever thought it would be.

“I’ll never be 100% again. It’s one day at a time which I’m not used to doing,” O’Meara said.

66 days after crashing hard into the pavement on I-29, O’Meara’s road to recovery is far from over. O’Meara was thrown from his motorcycle on July 19 on I-29 by an erratic driver officials say was going nearly 100 mph. Following the hit-and-run, the driver, later identified by officials as 28-year-old Maichael Yousa went on a 30-minute crime spree across Fargo before getting in two more crashes and shooting at a North Dakota State Trooper.

The crash left O’Meara with a few broken ribs, severe road rash and a traumatic brain injury which has left O’Meara unable to work or drive. It’s unknown how long those restrictions will be in place. O’Meara says he has a follow-up appointment with doctors at the end of November.

“It’s very frustrating. Every day is so different,” he said. “I don’t have the physical strength anymore. It hurts to lift things. It’s getting better, but I don’t have stamina at all.”

For someone who used to be go, go, go, the extreme fatigue, brain fog, mood swings as well as sometimes slowed speech and mobility caused from his brain injury have O’Meara feeling defeated at times. One thing O’Meara credits to speeding up the toughest parts of his recovery is his time spent at Swanson’s Hyperbarics. Studies show hyperbaric oxygen therapy can dramatically and permanently improve symptoms of chronic TBI months or even many years after the original head injury.

“I like to think that I’m getting back to normal, but I see that every day that I’m not,” O’Meara said.

Rather than be bogged down by all of the setbacks, O’Meara says he chooses to see the positives. One of those positives is the woman who has stood beside him through his recovery; Heather Brouillet, his long-time girlfriend of nearly a decade.

“I remember looking at Heather (in the hospital) and there was just that moment where I was like, ‘Now I’m going to propose to her,’” O’Meara smiled.

And Saturday, the couple will make it official in their backyard in Horace.

“The one thing I’ve been telling people is if you love someone, if you care about them, just tell them. You might not have tomorrow. I almost didn’t have another day to tell Heather that I love her, but now I do,” O’Meara said.

O’Meara says their nuptials will not only be a celebration of love, but of the life he so desperately fought to keep living.

O’Meara and Brouillet add they want to thank the community for the outpouring support financially and spiritually in the days and weeks after the crash.