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High school sweethearts overcome tragic accident


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Estimated read time: 3-4 minutes

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BOUNTIFUL -- A former high school athlete and former high school cheerleader had it all: two beautiful children, a thriving business and a terrific marriage. One afternoon on Pineview Reservoir changed their lives forever.

Lynn Neerings and Craig Zabriskie began dating their sophomore year at Bountiful High School. Neerings was a cheerleader and Zabriskie played baseball for the Braves in the 70s.

"Craig was the all-American kind of guy and Lynn the cheerleader, so they were perfect together," said former classmate Bob Grove.

The pair married in 1980. Over the years, they had two daughters and Craig had a thriving mortgage business.

Their life took a dramatic turn on September 11th, 1990 on Pineview Reservoir. Another boat hit Craig while he was waterskiing.

"And unable to hear our warning cries, I watched helplessly as the boat slammed into my husband," said Lynn.

The couple estimates the boat hit Craig going 40 miles an hour, and the impact to Craig's head was closer to 60.

Twenty minutes later at McKay-Dee Hospital, Craig had slipped into a coma.

"When the doctor came in he had x-rays and told me his brain had just shut down, but there was some activity and he probably wouldn't make it through the night. Or if he does, he won't remember you or the children or he'll never walk again," Lynn said.

After five weeks in a coma, Craig finally woke up. "They had him sitting in a wheelchair, and I knelt down and said, 'Craig, I'm Lynn, your wife.' Unable to speak because he had a trach, he leaned towards me and kissed me. He remembered," said Lynn.

Craig doesn't remember anything from the accident, but he knew right away life would be drastically different. Ironically, Craig signed up for long-term disability insurance one month before the accident.

He said, "I just had a great life, and after the accident, it was like everything was taken from me."

To get back, Craig would endure grueling rehabilitation. He had to re-learn to walk and re-learn the alphabet. He even had to teach himself how to write with his left hand after being right-handed his entire life.

"They put a pen in my hand and said, 'Write your feelings, write everything.' So to this day I write down everything," he said.

Lynn became a writer, as well. She put their story into a book called, "The Lost Season."

"Our goal is to help everyone out there know that life is not easy, but you can overcome no matter what life brings you," Lynn said.

Life for Craig, now 52, includes continual therapy. One of the first things his therapist recommended was racquetball, a game Craig played for years before his accident.

"I play with two rackets, one in each hand. I serve with my right and kill with my left," said Craig.

Craig is also a regular at Gold's Gym where Lynn teaches aerobics. Though he can no longer work, he says life is great, despite what happened.

If you'd like to know more about the Zabriskies story or purchase their book, click here.

E-mail: kaiken@ksl.com

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Kathy Aiken

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