It might be hard to find a 17-year-old who is more grateful than Blain Mossa.
The Calaveras High School student-athlete is recovering from a horrific boating accident that left him fighting for not only his left leg, but also his life. Now, nearly a month after the accident, Mossa is trying to get back to whatever normal life is, and is grateful to still be alive.
“I’ve definitely reflected on that,” Mossa said. “It’s been one of the main things that I think about. I was so lucky to have the people there to help me, and I am able to get through this.”
Mossa is not the only one who is grateful that his life was spared. On Tuesday evening, friends, family and community members rallied together and held a drive-thru sausage dinner fundraiser to help with any financial needs the Mossa family will need. Mossa was humbled by the outpouring of support.
“This means a lot,” Mossa said as motorists drove up to purchase food outside Brew’gers in Valley Springs. “The amount of support from the time everyone found out that I was in the hospital was just incredible. I never expected to have this many people be on my side. It’s something special.”
On Aug. 8, Mossa joined a group of friends to celebrate a birthday at New Hogan Reservoir in Valley Springs. The afternoon consisted of laughing, swimming and wakeboarding. With a teenage girl behind the boat ready for her turn to wakeboard, Mossa stood at the front of the boat. At the very moment the girl signaled to the driver to go, Mossa decided to jump in the water.
Mossa hit the water as the boat began to accelerate and the propeller connected with the back of his leg. The injured Mossa was brought back onto the boat and his friend, classmate and football teammate Donivan Giangregorio assessed the situation and immediately took command.
“At first, I wasn’t thinking that it was real until he was pulled into the boat,” Giangregorio said. “I’ve been given a lot of training from my mom for situations like that and luckily with that training, I was able to have people apply pressure on the leg and I helped calm him down to slow his heart rate down.”
Mossa was losing a lot of blood. The boat returned to shore and he was taken by ambulance to Doctors Medical Center in Modesto. During that time, Mossa’s father, Robert, got the phone call that no parent wants to receive.
“It’s terrifying,” Robert Mossa said. “Your mind is going 100 miles per hour to try and figure out what’s going on.”
At Doctors Medical Center, emergency medical staff began working to repair the cut, which went from slightly below the knee to right above the ankle. The cut also severed the artery and main nerve going down his leg, and Mossa was down to less than a pint of blood remaining in his body. Doctors were able to reattach the vein in the leg and after nearly four hours, Mossa was stabilized. He was then flown to UC Davis Medical Center, where he stayed for nearly two weeks.
Robert Mossa knows how close he was to losing his son.
“We thought about that over and over,” Robert Mossa said. “The outcome is bad, but it’s way better than what it could have been.”
Brats for Blain
Mossa was able to return home after a couple of weeks in the hospital. A plan was then put in motion by friends and community members to help raise some money for the Mossa family. The decision was made to cook sausages and the Baysinger house in Wallace became the home base for all food preparation.
Between making sausages on Sunday and cooking on Tuesday, enough meals were made to serve between 400-425 people. Roughly 125 pounds of sausage was used, along with 75 pounds of coleslaw and nearly 300 pounds of chili beans. Teenage friends of Mossa helped cook and prepare the meals, and Eric Baysinger was happy to turn his family home into a sausage cooking station.
“Me, personally, I wouldn’t know Blain if I walked right by him,” Baysinger said. “But all I hear is that he’s a great kid and the family is a good family. We could do our part to donate a couple hundred bucks to a GoFundMe account, but my talent is cooking and making big meals for people. This is a way to turn that couple hundred-dollar donation into hopefully, a couple of thousand.”
Once the food was ready, the high school students, many of whom are also athletes, put the food in bags and transported it to Brew’gers. One of those working was Calaveras senior Ashlyn Brim, who was happy to help out for her friend.
“It took about a week to get this all organized and to see what we could and couldn’t do,” Brim said. “It took a village, but it worked out in the end. We have an awesome community and everyone came together and it shows that we do live in a very special place.”
Nearly a month ago, Mossa was dreaming about December and starting his senior year on the gridiron as one of Calaveras’ starting linebackers. Even if he’s never able to put on pads again, that won’t keep him from being near the action and close with the team.
“Even if I’m on crutches or in a wheelchair, I’m definitely going to be out there with everybody, sporting a jersey and making sure my guys are hyped up throughout the games,” Mossa said.
Mossa credits his athletic life for giving him the necessary tools to be able to not only cope with the injury when it happened, but to continue to fight for progress in the healing process.
“Sports helped me with understanding the process and understanding that everything will take time and not to freak out,” Mossa said. “I was able to stay calm, even when it happened. I understand that the healing process will take a while and that time is really the main factor.”
Mossa is nowhere near being out of the woods in his recovery. There’s a chance that everything will heal, but there’s also the possibility that complications may arise and amputation may be the only realistic option. But according to Robert Mossa, that’s still
a conversation for another day. But for Mossa, he’s willing to do whatever it takes to get back to normal.
Perhaps the most impressive thing is that not only does Mossa continue to stay grateful, but he has no hard feelings for what transpired in the water at New Hogan Reservoir.
“No one was at fault; it was merely an accident,” Mossa said. “I’m here and I’m healthy and I’m going to get through this no matter what. There is still a possibility that they’ll have to amputate and even if that happens, I’ll still be able to walk and I’ll have a leg.
I’ll be healthy and be able to move on with my life. That’s what has really helped me not be angry with anything. It was just an accident that happens and life goes on.”
There will be a Valley Springs community blood drive in support of Mossa on Sept. 29. The event will take place from 12 p.m. until 6 p.m. at the San Andreas Town Hall. All donors must wear a mask or face covering. Donors will be entered in a drawing for $5 gift cards from Common Grounds. Donors must have a photo I.D. and should be hydrated. For more information or to make an appointment, call Vitalant at (866) 822-5663 or visit donors.vitalant.org and use blood drive code SMFM399.