Near fatal crash, blindness not enough to block Clearwater teen from realizing dreams

Published: May. 5, 2021 at 6:56 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) - A little more than two years have passed since nine people were injured in a violent, two-vehicle crash near Clearwater. Among those injured were then 13-year-old Caleb Tobias, a survivor who isn’t letting a physical disability hold him back from achieving athletic goals.

On March 6, 2019, the Tobias family started out on their usual commute to school. On that early late-winter Wednesday morning, an SUV failed to stop at a stop sign on 71st Street South at 135th Street West and hit the Tobias family’s small car. The car rolled at least twice with the three Tobias kids, Caleb Tobias, his older brother Didrick, his older sister Morgan and their and their mother, Kim, taking the brunt of the impact.

Three of the four were critically hurt, fighting for every breath, but Caleb sustained the most severe injuries. His pelvis and every bone in his face were shattered. His brain began to swell, but his family never gave up hope that Caleb would survive and continue to be the fun, athletic kid he was meant to be. The accident left Caleb blind, but it didn’t stop him from doing things he loves most. This includes running track for his school. Now a freshman, he competes in the 400-meter run at Clearwater High School. Geri Beatty, a physical therapist in the Clearwater school district serves as a seeing guide for Caleb during his races. Tethered to him, she said it’s a challenge to keep up.

“He inspires me every day,” Beatty said. “He’s just one of those kids that people are drawn to. He’s just kind of the light that lights up the room when he walks in. His perseverance throughout the track season has been pretty amazing.”

Before the March 2019 crash, Caleb said he competed in football, basketball and baseball.

“I was going to do track before you know, the wreck happened,” he said. “I went to two track practices before the wreck happened, and to be honest, it’s a real honor to be doing track.”

Kim Tobias said she’s proud to see her youngest son continuing to follow and achieve his dreams.

“Ho’s not quitting,” she said. “Yes, things are hard in a way that I can’t comprehend. I wasn’t injured like he was, but just the fact that he’s willing to give it a try is where we are really proud of him.”

Caleb’s father, Aaron Tobias said Caleb is not going to give up and doesn’t complain.

“Yeah, he gets tired, but he’s excited to be here. He recognizes the miracle of his survival and his excelling of his everyday life from that point forward,” Aaron said.

Caleb said it’s been a long road to get to where he is today, but in that process and moving forward, he hopes to inspire those around him.

It feels really good that people are inspired,” he said. “I feel like a miracle.”

The Tobias family said while the crash on March 6, 2019 will forever impact them, it will never take away their faith to overcome anything that gets in their way.

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