Truckee native C.R. Johnson, a 22-year-old freestyle skier who recently suffered a serious head injury in Utah, made large steps toward recovery over the weekend, his mother Lorraine Johnson said Tuesday.
"He's improved like you wouldn't believe," Lorraine Johnson said. "He's his own old self again; telling jokes and making people laugh."
Lorraine Johnson said C.R. is no longer being held in neuro critical care and that over the weekend he was able to sit up in bed and move all his extremities for the first time since his Dec. 8 accident. He also began speaking in a whisper on Monday. Before that he could only respond to commands by blinking his eyes. He is now also working with a physical therapist.
On Monday night C.R. was able to eat solid food for the first time, his mother said, something he relished after more than two weeks of being fed through a tube.
"Since he started eating food he's just a different person," Lorraine Johnson said. "He's eating like a horse. I've never seen him eat so much."
C.R.'s long-term memory is good, his mother said, but his short-term memory has yet to return. He does not remember the accident.
"He's really bound and determined to get on his feet again. He's doing really great," she said.
About the holiday weekend, Lorraine Johnson said: "We really didn't celebrate a big Christmas, but it was a good Christmas because we're happy he's doing so well."
C.R. Johnson was working on a film at Brighton ski area in Utah on Dec. 8 when his head injury occurred.
After falling on a sequence in which several athletes hit a jump in rapid succession, Lorraine Johnson said, C.R. was struck by Kye Peterson, who was trailing him. Despite wearing a helmet, the collision opened a gash above his eyebrow that required only three stitches but knocked him unconscious for about four or five minutes.
C.R. Johnson was air lifted to the University of Utah Hospital, where he was sedated and remained in a coma until opening his eyes on Dec. 18. Upon waking up from the coma, he could not speak or move his arms or legs. He also developed pneumonia, which he is still fighting, his mother said.