‘Immense bravery for sure’; high schooler’s first day back spoiled by near-death injury


COLUMBUS, Ind. — Last Friday, August 6, was the first day of school for Columbus East High School students. 

The day was particularly memorable for one sophomore – for all the wrong reasons…

Call it a near-death experience, call it a game of catch gone wrong or a recess rescue, whatever it was, it certainly wasn’t the first day of school Clayton Smith was expecting.

Clayton, who was also celebrating his 15th birthday was out playing two-hand-touch football with his friends at lunch break, caught a pass near the building and was accidentally pushed into a window. Leaving his now stitched-up arms to look a lot like the laces of a football itself.

“I certainly have some battle scars now,” Clayton said. “I can pretty much say a good 15 seconds more if they hadn’t helped me, I would have died.”

“They” are two Columbus East classmates whom Clayton barely knows…

“It was the girl’s sweatshirt she had taken off and they together made it into a tourniquet and put it on my right arm to stop the bleeding,” Clayton said. “They came to my aid. Made a tourniquet and put it on my arm, applied pressure and saved my life. Everybody else out there… ran away.”

The window Clayton crashed through has since been boarded up. His brachial artery was completely severed – doctors say he likely won’t return to the classroom until at least October, but the young man is expected to make a full recovery after rehab.

“It wasn’t a pretty sight. Wasn’t great. Wasn’t great feeling either,” Clayton said. “It was terrifying. It’s hard to just grasp how just big that could’ve been. I didn’t pass out once the entire time. Not even in the hospital nothing.”

His ‘angels in the end zone’ swept in and came through in crunch time. 

“They didn’t really, they didn’t have the qualifications to know what to do entirely but they knew what needed to be done on the spot. Brave, just immense bravery for sure,” Clayton said.

He hasn’t yet spoken to his heroes since they saved his life that day, but when he does, he’ll say…

“Thank you, there will probably be tears,” Clayton said. “We are immensely grateful. You saved my life. I don’t really have the words off the top of my head to express how thankful I am. You’re the reason I’m still here.”

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