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Shane Hmiel: A long recovery ahead, cautiously optimistic Steve Hmiel says

 Shane Hmiel, at Indianapolis' Raceway Park, in July (Photo: Toyota Motorsports)

   By Mike Mulhern


   It was a bright sunny Sunday morning at the track, and Steve Hmiel had just flown in from Indianapolis....where his son Shane is in fight of his life.
   It's been a rough season behind the scenes on the NASCAR road, for a lot of us, and Steve Hmiel knows that as well as anyone, too well in fact.

   You think you've got problems, that life is dealing you a bad hand to play? Well, consider Steve and Lisa Hmiel and their son Shane, who just suffered a terrible crash earlier this month when his USAC Silver Crown car smashed into the wall at Terre Haute.
    Shane was airlifted to Indianapolis' famed Memorial Hospital, emergency surgery, broken bones every which way, an induced coma to keep the brain from swelling.
   A nightmare.
   While things are a little better now for the 30-year-old racer, Steve Hmiel concedes the road to recovery for Shane will be a long one.
   More surgery is planned for Monday.
   "Shane is certainly better now that he was two weeks ago," Hmiel says in some relief. "Surgery went well on his neck and his back. His spinal cord looks good; it's pretty badly bruised, but not frayed or broken.
   "He had pulse in his feet, he has blood through his cord.
   "He had pneumonia last week, and that was the scariest thing of all. But he got over that Friday. And he's now breathing without a ventilator.
   "He's talking....
   "He's got surgery Monday to repair a small tear in an artery in his neck.
   "After that, it's just a matter of healing up."
  Shane Hmiel (Photo: Toyota)


    It was a hell of a hit: http://bit.ly/9QazU0
   "It was a pretty big hit....and I don't want to overstate things, but we are cautiously optimistic," Hmiel says.
    "The doctors seem happy with it. They're very pleased with how everything came out. They're pleased with how the MRIs look.
    "We were real scared about the pneumonia....
    "It's going to be close to a year of rehab.
    "But, in the first place, it's survivable.
    "The second, what will he have for quality of life.....that's the real question.
    "But it's looking pretty good right now.
   " Shane will be in ICU for probably another two weeks. And then in a regular room for a couple after that.
   "And he'll probably do all his rehab up there....because that's where his friends are, and they tell me that, while you can go anywhere for rehab, it's the motivation that makes the difference. And all his USAC buddies are up in Indianapolis; he's lived there for two years."



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