John's Story: On the Road to Recovery
“It might sound strange for a 42 year-old to express pride that today I fed myself, today I walked, today I did something I haven’t done since the accident. These little things are like winning the gold.”John Flegg
On July 23, 2007, Toronto woke up to a commuting nightmare when a 24-wheel truck crashed into the median on the 401. The truck’s contents, hot liquid tar, burst onto the road, engulfing the tanker and its driver, 42-year-old John Flegg. John literally cooked in the tar while a small army of rescue workers and commuters tore through the wreckage to pull him out. Over 70 percent of his skin was badly burned; in some areas, John’s skin was burnt to the bone. His face was spared all but the slightest injury thanks to John’s “guardian angel” – an anonymous passer-by who leapt into the tar and held John’s face aloft, saving it from damage. After a medically-induced coma for three months and countless skin grafting surgeries, John came to St. John’s Rehab, home of Ontario’s only burn rehab program. For months, John and his therapists worked tirelessly on the most basic tasks – grasping a pen, lifting a fork, even holding a telephone – until John accomplished something more than basic: he took his first steps. Burns take years to recover from. John continues his outpatient treatment, but is now living on his own and walking unassisted. John is so grateful for his care at St. John’s Rehab that he took to the stage at our annual patient reunion event and gave an emotional speech about getting his life back.