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Athol boy walks out of hospital 2 months after accident nearly took his life

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A 13-year-old Athol boy and his family are especially grateful this Thanksgiving after he was discharged yesterday from Franciscan Children’s in Boston, where he spent two months recovering from an accident that nearly ended his life.

Javan Fox was riding his bike home in August when he got caught in a rainstorm and was struck by a truck his former hockey coach was driving.

“I’m just looking forward to seeing my family and friends again,” the athlete, Boy Scout and saxophonist said shyly yesterday before he walked out of Franciscan Children’s, surrounded by the bubble-blowing staff, and left for home with a police escort.

“It’s a really big day for us,” his mother, Devone Fox, said. “To have him home for the holidays is truly a blessing.”

The helmet Javan was wearing when he was hit likely saved his life, she said. But he was critically injured, suffering severe head injuries, a broken wrist and fractures to his face and vertebrae.

He was rushed to UMass Memorial Medical Center, where he was put on a ventilator in the intensive care unit. On Sept. 6, he arrived at Franciscan Children’s, unable to walk, talk or eat on his own.

The road to recovery has been a difficult one, filled with hours of physical, occupational and speech therapy. But although it’s harder for him to read music and his balance still needs to improve, Javan’s now able to breathe without the help of a ventilator, walk on his own and have full conversations — progress his mother attributed to his determination and the staff’s dedication.

“His therapists have treated him like a little brother; they’ve really been his biggest cheerleaders,” Devone Fox said. “And anything Javan sets his mind to, he’ll accomplish.”

Yesterday, he arrived home to his brother, Coby Smart, 20; his sister, Tatum Fox, 15; and the family’s pomeranian-chihuahua mix, Farrah.

And on Monday, it’s back to eighth grade at Athol-Royalston Middle School, starting with a half-hour each day, with the goal of returning to full days at school by Dec. 17, said his mother, who won’t be the only one cheering him on.

Jay Hopkins, who was behind the wheel of the truck that hit Javan, has become a family friend who has held fundraisers for him and visited him during his recovery, Devone Fox said.

“He coached Javan when he was younger,” she said. “And I reached out to him when I found out he was the driver and told him I had no hard feelings.”

Hopkins declined to be interviewed yesterday, saying in a statement, “This is about Javan, not me.”

“I am very thankful for Javan returning home today,” he said. “He worked extra hard to make this happen. This is a good day for a great kid and a wonderful family. Happy Thanksgiving.”

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