Metro Detroit hero Sean English continues to turn tragedy into triumph, inspire others, give back

DETROIT – Sean English Jr. is known as a good Samaritan and as an inspiration.

English lost his right leg more than two years ago while helping crash victims on I-96 just days before his 17th birthday. He's now using his story to help others on their own journeys.

In April 2017, a Jeep with six teenagers inside rolled over on eastbound I-96 near the Davison Freeway. Dr. Cynthia Ray, a doctor at the Henry Ford Hospital, and English stopped their vehicles and rushed to help. 

The two became crash victims themselves when another vehicle struck them. They were rushed to a hospital in critical condition. Ray suffered a severe head injury and underwent neurosurgery but died four days later. English had his foot amputed. He was a junior at University of Detroit's Jesuit High School at the time.

English was outfitted with a prosthetic leg last year and had to learn to walk again. He eventually got good enough to get back into track racing at school.

The road to recovery has not been easy, despite the small victories along the way. English is now 19 years old and is going into his sophmore year at Purdue University in Indiana. 

"When he applied to universities, he only applied to one," said his father, Sean English Sr. "And that was Purdue."

"At Purdue, I've really been studying a lot," English Jr. said. "I'm really trying to focus on my academics and not mess around and take advantage of this gift I should be cherishing."

English is double majoring in mass communications and general management. His family said he's thriving at school and has received multiple awards. He was the first recipient of the Tyler Trent Courage and Resilience Award, a scholarship awarded to students at Purdue's West Lafayette campus who have endured serious adversity. 

English has been visiting the Children's Hospital of Michigan and the Rehabilitation Institute of Michigan to speak with people who have undergone amputations. 

"Sean is one of the people that the hospital will call if there's amputees that need to be coached," English Sr. said.

His parents also help out, talking to parents and families about what to expect in their journeys to recovery.

"I have this gift in my life where I can help as many people as I can," English Jr. said. "I would be throwing it away if I didn't use that gift."

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