Man paralyzed in crash with suspected DUI driver walks again

Jul 1, 2019, 10:36 PM | Updated: Dec 11, 2022, 8:39 pm

WASHINGTON TERRACE, Utah — Following a crash with a suspected DUI driver that left him mostly paralyzed, Michael Clabaugh wasn’t sure if he’d ever be able to walk again—or even regain the use of his arms.

He had very little movement at all below the neck in February, weeks after the Jan. 19 collision at a gas station in Hooper.

“I was told I’d never walk again,” Clabaugh said. “I told them when they picked me up and brought me here (to Mt. Ogden Health & Rehabilitation Center), I’m walking out of these doors!”

More than 5 months after the crash, Clabaugh did just that Monday with only the help of a walker and a physical therapist and the love of his life at his side.

He received multiple loud rounds of applause from workers and family as he exited his room for the last time and slowly stepped out the front door of the facility.

“We’re going home, we’re going home!” said Mirinda Taylor ecstatically as she kissed Clabaugh.

She had brought their baby daughter, Rarity Anne, as well as her other daughter, Justice, to mark the occasion.

“The first time he was able to hold (Rarity Anne) was about two weeks ago,” Taylor said.

Clabaugh said he was able to get to this point through determination and intense therapy 5 days per week.

“He’s worked hard—he said he’s going to walk out of here and he’s doing that,” said Ryan Maxfield, one of the physical therapists. “He’s come a long way!”

Also present were several family friends, including some who came into the couple’s lives after the crash.

Lacy Andreasen said she lived close to the gas station and simply wanted to do whatever she could to help the couple.

“They’ve had a long road and he’s worked hard!” Andreasen smiled.

Jerle Taylor, meanwhile, said she returned to the rehab center to wish Clabaugh well after they “bonded” earlier in the year.

“I was here 60 days, he was here longer,” said Taylor, who now considered herself a “grandma” to Clabaugh. “I didn’t think he’d be able to walk again, but what do I know!”

Clabaugh still has a long road ahead.

He still can’t feel basic sensations—like the touch of his daughter—but he also committed to continue his recovery and even expressed interest in advocacy.

“I’ve lived on a positive mindset, you know,” Clabaugh said. “I just get through it, you know, just deal with it and get through it the best I can.”

Taylor said the couple was seeking a vehicle with a lift for Clabaugh and they were continuing to try to raise money for his medical expenses through a GoFundMe* account.

For now, Clabaugh said he was simply grateful to be walking with assistance.

“Something that most people take for granted—walking out the door—you know,” Clabaugh said. “It’s a big deal to my family and the rest of the people here.”

*KSL TV does not assure that the money deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries. If you are considering a deposit to the account, you should consult your own advisers and otherwise proceed at your own risk.

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Man paralyzed in crash with suspected DUI driver walks again