GRANTS PASS — Larry Ragsdale earned the Skyline Conference’s offensive player of the year award in football in 2007 and won a state hurdles title in 2008 as a senior at Illinois Valley High School in Cave Junction
He was so good at scoring touchdowns for the Cougars that Sports Illustrated featured him in “Faces in the Crowd.”
Now everyone wonders if he’s going to wake up.
The 20-year-old Ragsdale hasn’t regained consciousness since a March 10 crash on Highway 99W north of Monroe.
His girlfriend, Kelcie Yeoman, also an IVHS grad, was driving her own car behind Ragsdale’s 2002 Chevy Cavalier when it collided with a Jeep Cherokee driven by 31-year-old Shane Chambers of Corvallis.
Yeoman has been at his side ever since, along with his mother, Cathy, and younger sister, Paige, who are staying at the Mario Pastega House next to Good Samaritan Regional Medical Center in Corvallis.
Ragsdale’s father, John, has to hold down a job in Grants Pass but is in Corvallis every weekend, said McKenzie Yeoman, Kelcie’s younger sister.
“It’s been so hard for everyone, especially Kelcie,” said McKenzie Yeoman, who also visits. “They’ve made so many plans together.
“They said with head injuries you just don’t know. They can’t give you a prognosis of how he’s going to be in a few months, or in a year. They just can’t. It’s all kind of a mystery.”
McKenzie said Ragsdale has wiggled his toes a few times on command, but his eyes are not tracking. He moves around some.
At IVHS, the former student is on everyone’s mind.
“Larry is one of the most awesome kids to come through this school,” said Mark Higgins, IVHS athletic director, who gets text messages from Paige on Larry’s progress. “Very well liked, very involved.”
“It’s just such a tragedy,” said IVHS office manager Janie Pope. “Such a great athlete, such a great student, never in trouble. He had such potential.”
McKenzie Yeoman said Ragsdale has had multiple surgeries, including a procedure to remove a flap of bone to relieve pressure from swelling in the brain and another to fix a broken arm.
While he is not considered responsive, he has shown signs of life.
“All the nurses say it seems like there’s more there. He moves his arms.”
She said at some point Ragsdale will go to a rehabilitation facility or a nursing home, depending on how he progresses.
An account has been set up at U.S. Bank branches to help the Ragsdales with costs.
Ragsdale was attending Lane Community College in Eugene and commuting from Corvallis, where Kelcie Yeoman was taking classes at Oregon State University. He competed in track and field in 2009, but was injured in the crash before this season got under way.
“He told my dad recently he was in the best shape of his life,” McKenzie Yeoman said.
Chambers, who was treated and released from the hospital the night of the accident, has been in the Benton County Jail ever since.
He has been charged with second-degree assault, a felony, and driving under the influence of intoxicants, a misdemeanor. Bail is set at $112,500.
The District Attorney’s office has notified the court it is opposed to Chambers completing a diversion program, due to the physical injury resulting from the incident.
Chambers has pleaded not guilty in the case. His next court appearance is scheduled for May 6.
Gazette-Times reporter Rachel Beck contributed to this report.