Nevada High School student suffers severe injuries following crash

Marlys Barker
Nevada High School student suffers severe injuries following crash

A Nevada High School student has been fighting for his life this past week.

River Thompson, 17, a junior, suffered life-threatening injuries in a two-vehicle crash last Thursday morning. The accident, which happened along S-27, resulted in River’s small pickup barrel-rolling down a hill and into a ditch. He was taken by air ambulance to Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines, where he underwent two surgeries — one the day of the accident and the other Monday — both trying to reduce pressure on his brain.

The other person involved in the accident, from Des Moines, was treated for minor non-life-threatening injuries at the scene, according to the Story County Sheriff’s Office.

While initially, family and friends remained positive as River passed the 24-hour mark, the 50-hour mark and the 72-hour mark post accident, on Tuesday, River’s condition deteriorated and by our deadlines, Wednesday morning, things did not look good for River. He was in critical condition at press time.

River’s mother, Carrie, said River had been in a deep coma as a result of his injuries, and also from medications that were 100 times more powerful than morphine to keep him from becoming conscious if he were to start waking up.

As written on a Go Fund Me page for River online, multiple facial fractures, severe brain trauma and a broken pelvis were among the more serious injuries he suffered.

On Wednesday morning, River’s mother, who shares a Facebook page with River’s father, Clint, shared the following: “As the staff work with River, we talk about the kind of person he is. They have come to the consensus that he is just a badass spitfire full of sunshine that has been completely misunderstood. This kid has kept me on my toes since the day he was born. At this time I am holding off on updates. And focusing my posts on my sweet baby boy and about the amazing soul he is.”

Carrie told her Facebook friends several days earlier that she saw pictures of River’s truck post-accident and “the cold, hard truth is, he should have died, and the miracle we have been blessed with (that he lived through the crash) is life-altering.”

There were hundred’s of postings on Facebook over the past week from those who are praying for River, like the following:

Angelette Weir, writes, “I truly believe he is fighting to come back to you. He is one tough boy. He will never give up.” In another post, Weir writes, “I would like everyone to please stop and say a prayer for this young man and his family… He is an amazing, generous and loving kid … most never got him (figured him out), but I sure did! He allowed me to see his true self, and I’m thankful. I love you River.”

Dakota Weir writes, “I would like to take a moment to thank everyone that has been supporting him because he needs it and he is a wonderful person that deserves so much more than he got. It’s people like (those who are praying) that remind me that there is still good in this world and it shines bright in good times and bad times.”

Drew Barker writes, “I feel truly blessed to be River’s friend, and I am praying for his recovery so we can hang out again some day soon.”

Nevada teacher Karen Niblock writes, “Praying for River and for all of you as he heals from this terrible accident.”

Merry Cordes writes: “River was our paper carrier for a long time. Give him our best.”

Mary Thompson Perry writes: “Many, many prayers, for River and all his loved ones.”

Many students at Nevada High School signed a banner for River last week that was taken to the hospital in a show of support. River’s older brother, Devon Dubendorf, posted a picture of the banner and proudly proclaimed via Facebook, “This is what a small town school is all about.”

The Thompsons also shared a post over the weekend giving their thanks to all the emergency responders, who they called “heroes,” that were on the scene in Story County for the incredible work they did in getting a very fragile River out of his mangled truck. They also thanked the medical staff at Mercy for all they’ve done to help River fight for his life.

On Monday, River’s mother posted to Facebook. A portion of it reads, “He is taking on average four breaths a minute on his own. He responded to pain stimuli on his upper torso and a tickle on his foot. We did find out that he had a stroke due to the carotid artery being nicked. With all of this I am thankful that I can sit by his side typing this and holding his hand as I frequently pause to gaze upon his beautiful face.”

Please watch the Nevada Journal’s Facebook page and our website:, where we will update this story if needed.


Please help with funding support

Relatives and friends are working to set up fundraising efforts both online, at Go Fund Me, and in the community through collection jars that will be placed in various businesses and locations. “I want to continue to try to help my parents as much as I can with anything I can,” River’s brother Devon Dubendorf said, “and one of those things is helping financially.” Devon has been a big part of getting the fundraising efforts going, and anyone who can make a donation should know that it is very much appreciated.

A link to make a donation on River’s Go Fund Me page is: