Mitchell McTier suffers severe brain injury from skiing accident

by Clay Neely -


"It's just a mess,” said his mother, Jennifer McTier. “Every time we think we know everything, they tell us something else is wrong."

Mitchell McTier, brother of Madeline McTier, was airlifted from Keystone Ski Resort to St. Anthony’s Hospital in Lakewood, Colo. following a serious skiing accident on Sunday afternoon.

Madeline, a junior at East Coweta High School, died in September after a battle with brain cancer.

Mitchell McTier sustained a basilar skull fracture which runs from his cheek to his ear and then to the top of his head. Because of this severity, the brain injury is not isolated to one area but is spread across the entire brain.

McTier also sustained a broken rib, several bones in his neck and a bruised lung. Doctors are currently monitoring his brain pressure, due to the swelling and bleeding.

“It’s just a mess,” said his mother, Jennifer McTier. “Every time we think we know everything, they tell us something else is wrong.” 

Doctors and nurses indicated that he is not showing signs of paralysis, noting that when McTier is woken up, he gets angry and attempts to rip the tubes out.

“He’s moving for doctors and nurses when asked,” McTier said. “That’s a very good sign for a brain injury.”

However, doctors speculate that Mitchell will likely remain in St. Anthony’s Hospital for two to three months due to the severity of his injury.

Another obstacle for doctors will be removing the teeth that McTier swallowed down his windpipe before they can take out his ventilator. Doctors plan on extracting them from his esophagus as soon as they operate on his ear.

“It’s all minute by minute,” Jennifer McTier said.

Doctors told her that it will be a roller coaster ride due to the swelling and blood on Mitchell’s brain.

Jennifer is still in a state of shock and disbelief. She received a call from Mitchell’s cell phone Sunday afternoon, informing her that her son had been in a serious accident.

“Mitchell’s phone rang and a man on the other line said ‘Your son has been in a ski accident’ and it’s like ‘Who is this, where is Mitchell?’,” she said.

Mitchell and two friends from the University of West Georgia came to Keystone in order to avoid the usual beach crowds for their Spring Break.

“His friends had no idea,” said Jennifer McTier. “He was right behind him on the trail but when they arrived at the base of the mountain, they noticed Mitchell was missing. Then they saw the ski patrol going up the mountain and they all had a bad feeling.”

The two friends then got on the ski lift to investigate, looked down and saw it was Mitchell.

“The only thing they could save from Mitchell’s clothes was his cross that has Madeline’s ashes in it and his knee brace,” said Jennifer. “Everything else had to be cut off on the mountain.”

Before leaving for Colorado, Mitchell promised his mother that he would wear a helmet.

“He didn’t wear one,” she said.

McTier said she’s been overwhelmed by the amount support she’s received since the accident.

“Everyone in the community has been so awesome,” Jennifer McTier said. “We would have never gotten through everything with Madeline without them. Coweta County is the best. It’s a group of people who truly care about each other and here we go again. We’re getting through it because of everyone praying for us. There’s no other reason.”

We’ve been through so much but we just keep fighting,” Jennifer McTier said. “You know, we have our faith and it will never falter. I know there’s a reason and that’s what I cling to.”

“But I do say it all the time: ‘Okay. I’ve had enough, thank you very much.’”

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