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Raising hopes for Wes’ return home

Friends show support for American teacher injured in traffic accident


Friends and family on both sides of the Pacific are rallying to help an American man who was almost killed when a taxi ran him over in Korea.

Wes Putman was in a coma for three months after a speeding taxi hit him near Gangnam Express Bus terminal in Seoul.

In Korea, friends have held a ground hockey fundraiser and a rock concert to raise funds to help his family care for him and bring him home.

In his native Tennessee a day of events in June raised $50,000, bringing the total raised to nearly $70,000. 
Wes Putman is pictured before his accident.
Wes Putman is pictured before his accident.
Wes Putman in shown in therapy in Seoul after being hit by a taxi.
Wes Putman in shown in therapy in Seoul after being hit by a taxi.

Wes was teaching in Korea to save money so that he could go to graduate school. His grandmother said he was planning to teach history in different countries.

He first regained consciousness in June, following the accident in the early hours of March 12. He can now breathe unaided, but he is still unable to talk, move much of his body, or even swallow enough to go without a feeding tube.

“He has to have assistance for everything. He can’t get up or sit up on his own at all,” said Carolyn Putman, Wes’ grandmother. “He has to be lifted into the wheelchair. He has really very little movement.”

Wes is able to communicate using his left arm, although he does not have full control over it.

His treatment is being paid for by the insurance firm that covers the taxi driver that hit him, but a lot of expenses are not included. His family has to pay for basic medical supplies such as pads and some medicines.

Airfares and accommodation for his family has to be covered. A caregiver is also paid to look after Wes at night and allow his mother some time to rest.

Eventually bringing him home could cost more than $100,000.

“The biggest difficulty is the language barrier ― not being able to understand everything we’ve been told and not having a 24/7 interpreter,” Carolyn Putman said.

“The care he’s getting is excellent, but because of the English language and all the family are at home, we want to bring him home.”

She explained that the doctors had said that he would recover better long-term in the United States, because of the familiar surroundings and language.

At the moment, Wes is not ready to go home, but the family hopes he will be able to go back in September.

They will continue raising money until then to make sure his plane tickets are there when he is ready.

By Paul Kerry  (paulkerry@heraldcorp.com)
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