Young man defies odds after traumatic brain injury - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Young man defies odds after traumatic brain injury

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RED WING, Minn. (KTTC) -- In Goodhue County Court on Friday, Jonathan Closner listened to impact statements made by the family of the man he attacked with a hammer in Zumbrota in January.

Daniel Yennie, 21, suffered from severe head injuries that left him in a coma. He spent about two months in the hospital and endured three surgeries.

"It's a parents worst nightmare," said Christie Yennie, Daniel's mother.

He had lost seven pints of blood.

"We have seen the very worst of what has been and we've seen miracles," Christie Yennie said.

Today he's defying the odds and is learning to read, write, walk and talk all over again. But the family's message in court didn't focus on anger or revenge but quite the opposite.

"He's not angry. He gets upset sometimes but who wouldn't when you're trying to say something and you can't get it out. I've seen strength and I've seen faith, courage, he taught me a lot of those. Forgiveness, he taught me forgiveness," said Nikki Yennie-Drake, Daniel's sister.

It will be two years before they know how much of the damage is permanent.

"When something is about to be taken from you, you realize how much it means," Yennie-Drake said. "My brother and I were close before but through this, just watching him and being there for him and whether it's opening a pop because he can't do it, just realizing how important he is."

As the family settles in to a "new normal" they're remembering that early morning in January, when Danny's life was spared.

"Sometimes we just need to be thankful for what we have," Yennie said. "Maybe Danny will never be the same person that he was but all-in-all I think we're all going to be better people because of this."

And because of forgiveness their bond is stronger than ever.

In court, Closner apologized and said he regrets his actions. The family says they didn't get to the point of peace and forgiveness immediately, and it was anything but easy, but they've relied on each other and prayer.

After the sentencing before leaving the building the two families were able to exchange hugs and tears, recognizing the great pain experienced on both sides.

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