A TCU athlete who suffered a paralyzing accident at the start of his freshman year has not missed a beat, continuing his college education throughout his hospital stay, recovery, and rehab. He has continued to progress physically as well, and this month he moved into his own home off-campus ahead of his junior year.
The accident was allegedly the result of fraternity hazing activity. In November 2020, Joe Radanovich was a first-year student pledging a fraternity. He and his fellow pledges had gone on a road trip, participating in a scavenger hunt across Texas.
While on the road, the driver fell asleep, causing the truck to cross lanes and skid before flipping four to six times.
“We were all tired. It was unfortunate that it happened, but I remember waking up in the hospital. The first thing I said to them was to call my dad,” Radanovich told CBSDFW.
In addition to punctured lungs, Radanovich suffered two fractured vertebrae, which left him paralyzed from the waist down.
“There was a lot of down moments the first couple days. It was a lot of ‘I’ll be fine, this always happens, I can do this, I’ve recovered from injuries before,’ and then, as it kind of went longer, it kind of settles in. “You get reality checked a little bit; ‘OK, this is here to stay,'” Radanovich said.
The now 20-year-old continued working on his degree during the 10 days he was in ICU and the four months he spent in rehab. He returned to the university during his sophomore year and now has a wheelchair-accessible home that his parents renovated for him off-campus.
It has been 19 months since the accident, and Radanovich has set the goal of being able to walk on his own by the time he graduates.
“What a story it would be if I graduated on time and the goal is to walk across that stage, but more importantly, I found myself,” he said.
Radanovich filed a lawsuit against the TCU fraternity, but he said he holds no animosity against the organization or the university. The sophomore warns about the dangers of hazing and reminds incoming freshmen that pledging a fraternity is unnecessary.
“I still have a lot of my good friends even though I’m not in a fraternity. You find your people,” says Radanovich, who remains optimistic about the future and his ability to bounce back from such a tragic situation.
“As far as the future, they only gave me a 5-10% chance to walk, says Radanovich, “but I’ve always defied the odds of everything.”
TCU reports hazing incidents on its website. There were two reported hazing incidents during the Fall of 2020.