Dozens of children receive life-saving organs from 1-year-old killed in Audubon crash
HENDERSON, Ky. (WFIE) - After the crash that happened along the Audubon Parkway last Friday, Stephen Schaefer’s life was changed.
62-year-old Vickie Reutter was killed in that crash, and so was his wife, 25-year-old Braelen Hicks-Schaefer.
His son, Weston, was severely injured.
“This kid was the greatest thing that ever happened to me,” Stephen said. “Just perfect. Beautiful.”
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Weston was flown to Louisville for intensive care, but when Stephen arrived, the doctors had more bad news.
“It was such an unreal moment that somebody’s sitting there telling me, ‘This is it...’” he said. “His heart kept beating, his lungs kept pumping. He was relentless.”
He says after a while, Weston grabbed his finger and responded to his touch.
“I think Weston was kind enough to tell his Papa goodbye,” he said. “When they did all their tests and finally declared him one hundred percent brain dead, that little heart was still beating.”
Stephen said both his whole family and his wife’s family gathered to say goodbye.
“They were all standing in that room, watching that heartbeat, watching those lungs, and I knew,” he said. “This is important. This is what he was supposed to do, and this is why we are all here.”
Inspired by Weston’s strength, Stephen offered his son’s body for organ donation.
“The minute that it went through, they told us that phone was going off,” he said.
Hundreds of calls came in, all people eager for something that could save their children’s lives. Something Weston could provide.
“My little kid, my beautiful baby boy,” Stephen said through tears. “He’s a hero, dude... He got a medal, it’s the second-highest honor that a civilian can get. It’s a beautiful medal. And they wanted to let us know, ‘Your son’s a hero.’”
Stephen was told of a six-month-old boy who has never been able to eat.
“My little ham, my little eating machine - [the boy] got Weston’s tummy,” he said.
He said it’s allowing him to move through grief.
“That six-month-old that’s going to get to enjoy those awesome meals - we fed that tummy for 13 months,” Stephen said. “They’re going to know that was Weston “Tank” Samuel Schaefer’s tummy in there because he’s going to be craving chicken nuggets and coco puffs. They’re going to be grocery shopping!”
Weston’s donations have already helped 37 children.
More are on the way.
“We can smile, we can be proud,” Stephen said. “We can be happy.”
He and his friends are starting an effort to spread awareness about the benefits of organ donation.
He’s calling it “Weston’s Warriors.”
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