St. Paul's student doesn't quit, crawls to finish line


Posted on November 15, 2011 at 11:20 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 16 at 6:02 AM

Karen Swensen / Eyewitness News

ST. TAMMANY, La. -- There are times that make you proud as a parent and moments you'd rather forget.

Yesterday brought both to a Northshore mom, who watched as her track star son refused to quit, long after his body did.

“That's Christian. That's the kind of kid he is. Christian's been that way his entire life. He’s a fighter.”

And if seeing is believing, wait until you witness the power of human will captured frame by frame in a home video.

With the state championship on the line, Christian Bergerson was in the last lap of his three-mile race as a senior, when the heat and humidity beat him like no competitor ever has.

His legs buckled, his body crumbled, but his spirit never wavered.

Christian collapsed and got up, again and again, and again, four times before ultimately crawling across the finish line.

His mother witnessed the horror from behind the lens of her camera.

“I'm taking pictures and I'm clicking – St. Paul’s, St. Paul’s, St. Paul’s – and I see Christian's head and then he goes away, and my oldest son was standing next to me, and I said, ‘he fell!’”

Christian's big brother jumped the spectator fence and raced to the finish line, where Christian fell into his arms.

It's the last thing Christian remembers.

“Well I was trying to move my legs, but it just wasn't working. I tried standing and they just buckled underneath me, so that's when I resorted to crawling,” he said. “I don't remember hearing anything. When I crossed the line, I saw my brother, and he picked me up and brought me to the bench.”

But the ordeal wasn't over. Christian's mom, a nurse, ran to his aid and so did others.

“There was a physician there, and he said, where's the medic? And there was not a medic.”

And there was no ambulance either. She said she knew her son was dangerously dehydrated, and bottles of water weren't enough.

“His breathing was way too shallow. He was becoming unresponsive, and at that point we put him in a golf cart and I drove him to the hospital.”

Looking at him now, it's hard to believe that was just 24 hours ago. Christian says he's sharing his story to illustrate the importance of having EMT's and ambulances at track meets.

Perhaps it does and much more, it also illustrates sheer will – a defining moment in a young athlete's life, one that made his mom indescribably proud and would rather forget.