Piedmont Athlete Risks Playing Career Helping Tornado Victim

Thursday, June 16th 2011, 12:39 pm
By: News On 6

Dave Davis, News On 6

PIEDMONT, Oklahoma -- He has big league dreams, but a Piedmont teenager is trying to overcome an injury that nearly took his sight. Last month, Jack Decker's hometown was hit by a tornado.

And his willingness to help a complete stranger almost put his dreams on hold. 

"It's just one of those things, you get down in the cellar and you wait it out and hope you can open the door when everything's over and everything's there," said Piedmont athlete Jake Decker.

When this deadly EF5 tornado ripped through Piedmont a few weeks ago, it left a trail of destruction. Although it spared the Deckers' home, that didn't stop 19-year-old Jake Decker from looking for people who needed help.

"I mean, that's just Jake. I mean, he's constantly stopping and helping pull people out of a ditch. He just has a kind heart," said Lane Decker, Jake's dad.

On May 24th, after stopping to help a motorist untangle a wire from her car's axle, Jake had an accident. Part of the wire suddenly sprung up and poked his eye, rupturing his lens and puncturing his cornea.

An injury like this is especially dangerous to Jake because he'll need a good eye to pursue his passion: baseball. Jake's dream is to play in the big leagues. He was the star shortstop for the Oklahoma City Broncos, a home-schooled team that plays and beats 5A and 6A competition. His dad Lane is a major league scout for the San Diego Padres. His coach is OSU legend and former big leaguer Monty Fariss.

Jake has signed to play at Eastern Oklahoma State College, and last week, during the Major League draft he got a surprise. The New York Mets picked him in the 43rd round.

"I had the laptop on, and we were trying to get him to wake up so he could hear his name called. But he was so in and out of it at the time; he didn't even hear his name called," Lane Decker said.

He's choosing the college route for now, hoping to improve his game and raise his draft stock.

With plenty of rest, doctors expect his left eye to almost completely heal.

But as for that fateful day, a few weeks ago, when he could have easily lost his sight - would he do it all over again?

"I wouldn't change a thing. I mean, you can't just stop helping people just 'cause one thing's gonna happen," said Jake Decker, a Piedmont baseball star.

"Jake, right now, I don't think he knows why this has happened to him. I don't know why it's happened to him. I don't think anyone can explain why. But I think in the end, he will grow from this and it'll be an experience that will propel him to a higher level," said Monty Fariss, Jake's high school baseball coach.

Doctors told Jake's mom that if this exact injury would have happened 10 years earlier, he would have been permanently blinded.