Volunteers landscape Zack Mohs’ home

Cheryl Young and Zack Mohs thanked volunteers, after they landscaped the yard around the house built with donations and volunteers in South St. Paul. Mohs sustained severe injuries from a hit-and-run in Anchorage, Alaska, in September of 2012 and the house has helped him become more independent. (Kaitlyn Roby/Review)

Boston Scientific employees volunteering through Rebuilding Together Twin Cities transformed Zack Mohs’ yard June 13, adding sod and landscaping around his new house. (Kaitlyn Roby/Review)

Nearly 2 years after hit-and-run, South St. Paul man regains independence

After a vehicle hit and dragged Zack Mohs when he tried to cross an intersection nearly two years ago, leaving him with an amputated leg, brain damage and extensive fractures, he and his family weren’t sure he would live, let alone live in his own home.

Now nearly three months after he moved into a house in South St. Paul built in part with money from donations and help from volunteers -- wrangled by his persistent mom, Cheryl Young -- the 28-year-old is working towards walking, looking forward to a music studio being built in his basement, and talking with his mom about going back to school.

“It feels a lot better, because I’m more independent,” Mohs said.

Young says Mohs has come a long way since she rushed to Anchorage, Alaska, in September of 2012, when doctors said they would just try to keep him alive until she got there. He was severely injured, and ended up in a coma for 30 days, but Young was determined to make him “a success.”

“I knew he was going to survive,” Young said. “I pictured Zack and he was smiling and I saw light and I knew he would survive.”

She said the new house has made all the difference.

“He’s recognized his future is better now,” Young said. “It’s done exactly what I knew it would do. It’s given him his life back.”

Finishing touches

About 30 volunteers, mostly Boston Scientific employees, transformed Mohs’ yard on a recent Friday. They spent several hours taking the mud, garbage and rocks around his house, and replacing them with crabapple trees, flowers and sod.

Rebuilding Together Twin Cities, an organization that provides significant home repairs to in-need families, donated the sod and rustled up volunteers. Heins Nursery donated the plants, according to Young.

Rebuilding Together executive director Kathy Greiner said Young’s persistence to gather donations to secure some normalcy for her son is what spurred the organization to get involved.

“It was the story,” said Greiner. “We bring together a lot of partnerships and people that can get the work done.”

Perri Graham, executive director of the Builders Association of America Foundation, helped with the landscaping June 13. The foundation helped fund the house in the first place, after Young shared her story with the board.

“She convinced folks that this is what needed to happen,” Graham said.

Glad to be home

Mohs was in a group home until the end of March. He said life has been “way different” since he’s been able to be in a house, have his two dogs live with him and relearn how to take care of himself.

“It’s awesome,” Mohs said. “It’s a huge relief. It takes a bunch of pressure off.”

Mohs grew up in South St. Paul. There, he’s been able to have a life he didn’t imagine for himself two years ago.

“Here, I can go out and go to the store and see my friends,” Mohs said. “I just have to tell my mom where I’m going.”

Rediscovering his passions

Along with growing out his beard (he’s a facial hair enthusiast, he says), he’s into art and music production.

Mohs said he’s been revisiting songs and lyrics he wrote prior to the accident, trying to relearn how to produce music, his main passion. He also gets inspired by his pre-accident artwork.

“I’ve used the same program for 10 years, and I can’t remember how to do it,” Mohs said. “When I’m bored, I go through my old writings and drawings and get inspiration in that.”

He said he’s looking forward to having a studio in his basement, and soon getting back a computer that contains songs he made in Alaska, which he hasn’t heard for two years.

He’s marked his experience with another of his interests: tattoos.

Jason Walstrom, a tattoo artist at Sea Wolf Tattoo Company  in Minneapolis, free of charge, recently tattooed two moose locking antlers across his chest.

One moose represents Alaska, he said, where the accident took place. The other represents Minnesota, “where I overcame my injuries,” Mohs said.

More to do

The family is still hoping to construct a wheelchair-accesible patio in the backyard, install an irrigation system to maintain the landscaping and build a music studio in the basement, Young said. But the funds aren’t there yet.

Meanwhile, Mohs is continuing his recovery. He goes to therapy three times a week, mostly to help him progress towards walking. He takes several medications, including pills for seizures and muscle relaxers.

Things have been getting better. And although the attention his story gets can at times be overwhelming, especially when he has a hard time remembering things, Mohs said he’s still happy to share it.

“I do it just because I’m grateful,” Mohs said. “It’s good to see that people care.

“Now I just got to get up and walking.”

Kaitlyn Roby can be reached at 651-748-7815 and kroby@lillienews.com. Follow her at twitter.com/KRobyNews.


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