Out In The World Again -- Paralyzed UW Freshman Back Home


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For more information on the benefit auction, contact Sam Foss at 235-8560.

Five months after falling from a window at his fraternity house, University of Washington student Billy Price is back home.

Price, 19, returned from the UW Medical Center to his family's Issaquah home last Friday night. The accident left him paralyzed from the waist down.

"I was really nervous about him coming home," said Jill Price, his mother. In the hospital, her son had several nurses he could summon with a push of a button. At home, Jill Price cares for her son, mostly alone during the day. In the evenings, her husband, William, helps out, too.

UW freshman Billy Price broke his neck in a fall from a third-floor open window after a fraternity-sorority party Oct. 9. He is just glad to be out in the world again, and his first outing was to see a play at his alma mater, Issaquah High School, with his sister, Katie, 16.

The avid skier is also eager to live with his fraternity brothers again at Alpha Delta Phi in mid-April. He will start spring quarter at the UW at the end of this month, where he's signed up for seven credit hours.

"I'm just excited to get back into the normal routine of what I was doing before," Billy Price said.

Since his return home, life has been chaotic for everyone in the family, particularly Jill Price. Between ferrying her son to and from physical-therapy sessions, and doctor and dentist appointments, she fields dozens of calls a day from family and friends and arranges visits. She's also busy helping to remodel the family's basement to make it wheelchair-accessible for Billy.

"It's a challenge to keep my patience," Jill Price said. "I love him so much that I don't want to screw up."

Ironically, a man who was re-roofing the home fell and suffered minor injuries Monday morning. Paramedics were called, and Jill Price raced to the yard where the worker lay. The terror of her own son's experience rushed back to her.

"I didn't want him to have the same injuries as my son," she said.

Billy Price doesn't remember much about what happened to him last fall. His friends found him lying on the sidewalk outside of the fraternity just north of the UW that morning and carried him back inside. He said he had been drinking at the party but wasn't drunk.

Price now goes through physical therapy three times a week. He is making progress in regaining full use of his arms and hands, and can now write.

Meanwhile, volunteers trying to collect money to help pay for Price's medical expenses continue their fund-raising efforts.

Most of the medical costs have been covered under Jill Price's insurance from work and her son's health insurance from the UW. The family also dipped into William Price's insurance to pay for a wheelchair. But there are other unanticipated expenses, such as the house remodeling.

On May 18, family members and friends are planning an auction at the Seattle International Trade Center. Sam Foss, a colleague and friend of Jill Price who is spearheading the event, is scrambling to get corporate sponsors for the auction, which will include hors d'oeuvres and dinner.

Up for bid will be such items as ski packages, two autographed Michael Jordan basketballs, oil paintings and dinner gift certificates.

Eastside Update is an occasional series checking back on people and issues in the news.