Angel Rodriguez’s friends and family enjoy activity and love to celebrate. They are part of a trail riding club that includes all-terrain vehicles and horses. On a spring day last March, they gathered for a crawfish boil. When Angel’s 20-year-old niece asked for a ride on his ATV, he was more than happy to oblige. As another vehicle clipped his, he wrapped himself around his niece before they flipped. That action probably saved her, and it’s the last thing he remembers about the day.
He woke up a week later, just one day before his 26th birthday. His body fared well in the accident, but he had a fracture near his right eye and a head injury was causing his brain to swell. Doctors removed part of his skull; it would not be replaced for eight months. Before leaving the hospital three weeks later, Angel had to re-learn how to walk and maintain his balance.
Angel’s family loves Ben Taub. The staff was especially helpful to Angel’s wife, Nancy, who was there day and night. “Everyone knew they were taking good care of me,” he says. “I’d recommend this hospital to anyone.”
A grain elevator maintenance mechanic at the Port of Houston, Angel’s biggest challenges were being inactive and worrying about finances. His friends helped. They established a GoFundMe account and sponsored a trail ride fundraiser. The proceeds and his savings kept the family afloat until Angel returned to work, still with a skull flap under his hard hat.
Angel and Nancy are no strangers to traumatic events. Eight years ago, they were riding with friends when they heard a whistling noise. Their car had been shot at, and Nancy discovered blood and shards of glass in her hair. They rushed to the emergency center at Lyndon B. Johnson Hospital where doctors found the bullet nestled in her hair.
Nancy’s incident was a close call; Angel’s even closer. They don’t need a third reminder that life is precious. They take advantage of every day and every possible trail ride: Angel on his ATV; Nancy on her horse; and four-year-old Angelica in a wagon. Every day is a celebration.