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One year after crash, big improvement marked by Hastings teen

One year ago, Hastings teenager Brian Gapp was just emerging from a coma after crashing his car on the way to school.

The fact that he was alive when he made it to the hospital was a marvel of modern medicine. He had crashed his car along 150th Street just west of Hastings and wasn’t found for about two hours.

Soon, he was whisked away in a helicopter and taken to Regions Hospital.

Gapp spent weeks in a coma and more than a month in the hospital before finally being able to return home just before Thanksgiving.

Now, one year later, the effects of the crash are still present in his life, but if you walked by him in the grocery store, you’d likely never know what he went through.

Gapp still has hearing loss and has troubles with the traumatic brain injury that he suffered. That said, he’s learning to deal with both.

“The traumatic brain injury is hardly noticeable as long as I have enough time to think through what I’m doing,” he said. “Hearing loss is the most difficult part of what happened; I always was an introvert in the past, but I rarely misheard and had to ask, ‘Can you repeat that, please?’

“As time passes it seems more natural, but I really miss how music used to be.  My hearing loss has some advantages however, especially when I just want to turn off annoying distractions: I just have to turn my hearing aid off.”

Gapp’s vision has improved over the past year, and physically things have improved, too. One year ago, doctors told him and his family that the lion’s share of his improvement would come within the first year of the crash. Gapp is happy with the improvements his body has made.

“I think that I have greatly improved in every way during the past year,” he said. “I was really hoping that my stress would go away for longer periods of time, but it is still a frequent visitor.  Handling that stress is what has improved the most though.”


Gapp is considered a senior at HHS, but he is taking classes at Inver Hills Community College. He’ll be graduating in June with the class of 2014.

He missed half of his junior year because of the crash, but because he had worked ahead in his schoolwork, he’ll still be able to graduate on time.

Gapp took the ACT this year and scored a 33 (which puts him in the 99th percentile nationwide), including a perfect 36 on the science test.

The science score was especially encouraging to Gapp.

“(That) brought back a lot of my courage,” he said.

His traumatic brain injury took away his abilities to focus and think fast, he said, so he was able to take the test over three days.

After high school

Gapp said he’ll most likely be attending the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. He’s interested in computer science and wants to complete the Associates of Science degree that he has started already. Once he completes that, he hopes to take a year off to allow his brain to fully heal.

The effects of the crash still show up while he’s working, he said.

“My intelligence is (as a computer scientist), but I am often very stressed, so I am also considering a form of artistry,” he said. “By artistry, I mean design.  Most of my intellect works best in the planning stages and in the creative stages, but not in the action phases, especially now that I have trouble hearing, especially while stressed with time.  Exactly what career that would be, I do not currently know.  That is part of why I want to take a year off after graduating, so that I could dedicate a lot of time towards choosing a definite path.”

Gapp is hoping some kind of path makes itself clear.

“I am bothered by my inability to choose what to do, and I am hoping that some kind of definite career passion will reveal itself,” he said. “I always do best when I have an inspirational plan that I know exactly how to do in a better than average way.”