Four months ago, as Douglas Michaels lay unconscious in the head trauma unit of Erie County Medical Center, his mother dared to predict he would attend his high school graduation.
Such moxie apparently is hereditary.
Only 3 1/2 months after he regained consciousness from his second coma in five years, the Wheatfield teen-ager will graduate today with the rest of the Starpoint Central Senior High School Class of 1990 at 7:30 p.m. in Artpark, Lewiston.
"It's a miracle," said James M. Allen, principal at Starpoint Central Senior High. "There was a time back close to the accident we didn't think he'd make it back. But in a matter of three or four months, he was back doing his studies. The good Lord obviously has a purpose for him."
"He earned it," said his mother, Sharon Michaels, of Townline Road. "He took the same economics exam and the same English exam as the rest of the kids, and he passed."
Michaels, 19, missed only 23 days of school, after he was struck by a hit-run driver Feb. 17 as he walked along Niagara Falls Boulevard in North Tonawanda.
It was his second serious head injury. Five years earlier, he spent six weeks in a coma after falling from a tree.
Doctors said after his second injury that they were not optimistic that he would fully recover. But two weeks following the hit-run accident, Michaels regained consciousness. And slightly more than a month later, he was walking, talking and ready to go home.
He spent less than a month undergoing extensive physical therapy at the Intermediate Re-entry Unit at Our Lady of Victory Hospital in Lackawanna and returned to school April 27. He even attended the senior prom, his mother said.
"We hired two tutors for him. They came in the morning, in the evening, Saturdays and Sundays. We couldn't have asked for two better teachers," Mrs. Michaels said.
Michaels will attend Erie County Community College in the fall, where he plans to study occupational therapy so he can help other accident victims.