Kansas teen recovering after near-fatal car crash, mom thanks app for saving life

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WAMEGO, Kan. (KSNT) – A 16-year-old from Wamego is teaching people of all ages that we are not invincible while texting and driving, speeding, or driving impaired, and his mom thanks an app for telling her that he was in danger, otherwise their family would look a lot different today.

Palmer Nowlin was hanging out with his buddies when he crashed on an isolated road in north Wamego.

“I was just right up that road right there,” Nowlin said able to point in the direction of the crash, but he has no memory multiple days prior to the accident that nearly ended his life.

He’s not sharing his story for sympathy. Rather, he and his family want to share what can happen.

“In a lot of ways, it was probably the best thing that ever happened,” Tracie Rust, Nowlin’s mother said. “I think Palmer knows now that life is precious, and no one is promised another day. He did everything wrong that night, and he’s still here.”

According to Rust, his blood alcohol content showed that he had a few drinks that night. Nowlin himself admits he may have been on Snapchat, and the investigation shows that he was likely speeding.

Rust and her daughter were the first responders all thanks to an app on her phone: Life360. They were able to call his friends and use their combined adrenaline to pull him out of the car by the seat.

“I knew when I looked at my phone, and he was at a point in the road where I knew there wasn’t an intersection, and that there was something wrong,” Rust said.

Nowlin was reluctant to let his mom get the app just weeks before the crash, but he may not have been here without it. Reminders of the crash are still at the site of the scene with pieces of his car still lining the road.

He went to Mercy Regional in Manhattan and was airlifted to Stormont Vail Health in Topeka where his parents were told he wouldn’t live. His mom said his head looked about three times the size of its normal proportions.

Nowlin spent 26 days in the PICU and then was transferred to Madonna Rehabilitation in Nebraska. Sixty days later he didn’t walk out, but he was close, being wheeled out and on his way home.

“I can’t describe the feelings that goes through your mind when you see your child laying there, hanging out the back of his vehicle, partially ejected,” Rust said.

Nowlin has since been learning to not just walk, but talk and breathe without running out of air.

Life360 is available for both iOS and Android devices.

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