Phillip “PJ” Caruso, II
An entire life can be changed in a moment’s notice.
On the evening of Feb. 24, 2008, 19-year-old Phillip “PJ” Caruso, II was driving his SUV alone when he crossed into the opposite lane eventually running off the road. It is believed that Caruso suddenly fainted. Once he lost consciousness, the vehicle continued on – hitting a utility pole, passing through a fence and ultimately crashing into two trees. The location of the accident was within earshot of St. Johns County Fire Rescue on Canal Road in Ponte Vedra Beach. Crew members heard the crash and responded immediately. Once on the accident’s scene, fire rescue found the SUV overturned and wrapped around a palm tree. Caruso was partially trapped inside and was unresponsive.
Caruso was immediately flown to TraumaOne at Shands Jacksonville where he was treated for a traumatic brain injury, a broken nose and a deep cut on the left side of his head. He remained in the surgical intensive care unit from Feb. 24 – March 9. During that time, Caruso battled through a high fever and a collapsed lung. As he improved, he was transferred to the medical/surgical intensive care unit. It was 13 days before he could even open his eyes. He spoke for the first time after the accident just three days before he was discharged to Brooks Rehabilitation Hospital on March 29, after more than a month at Shands Jacksonville. Miraculously, he remembered all of his friends and family. After three and a half weeks of rehabilitation, Caruso walked out of Brooks Rehabilitation Hospital on his own.
Today, he is on his way to full recovery. He is back in school taking classes at Florida Community College at Jacksonville, and his experience has pushed him toward a new career goal. The care he received has prompted Caruso to seek a degree in occupational therapy to support other patients and families in their journey toward recovery.