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Tied by trauma

Brody Clarke doesn't recall the truck hurdling out of control toward him, the crunch of metal and breaking glass. The car accident that nearly took his life on that cold November day less than a year ago is nothing but a lost, dark memory. It's u...

Tyler Anderson, left, and Brody Clarke

Brody Clarke doesn't recall the truck hurdling out of control toward him, the crunch of metal and breaking glass.

The car accident that nearly took his life on that cold November day less than a year ago is nothing but a lost, dark memory.

It's up to friend and Concordia teammate Tyler Anderson to fill in the darkness.

"It was pretty instant," said Anderson, who was sitting in the back seat of the car as it was struck and remained conscious. "Nobody saw it coming."

Clarke, Anderson and Concordia softball player Emily Neutzling were traveling home for Thanksgiving break on Interstate 94 when a truck going the opposite direction lost control on a patch of ice, passed through the median and struck Neutzling's car on the driver's side.

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The truck's 16-year-old driver of the truck and his passenger were treated and released from the hospital.

Anderson and Clarke, who are both from Buffalo, Minn., were both severely injured.

Neutzling died at the scene.

"It's almost like you are in disbelief," Anderson said. "You think you should wake up from it any second. I was just shaking my head and wondering if this had actually just happened."

Anderson, who required several stitches in his head and shins, suffered a ruptured colon and bladder, and a fractured bone in his hand.

He had two surgeries and was out of the hospital for less than two weeks.

Doctors diagnosed Clarke with a contusion of the frontal lobe -- a large bruise on the brain. He also sustained a hip injury.

Clarke was released from the hospital five days after the accident.

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One of the first people to visit both Clarke and Anderson was Cobbers coach Terry Horan.

"It was an emotional time that I'll never forget," Horan said. "I never even thought of the game of football. I just wanted these two guys to recover and have productive lives."

Both Anderson and Clarke resumed classes at Concordia about a month after being released from the hospital.

Broken bones and scars healing, the duo faced their toughest test when they came back to campus -- coping with the loss of Neutzling.

"There isn't a day that goes by that I don't think about her," Clarke said. "I know that she's looking down on me and she's got a big grin on her face. She's always going to be in my heart."

Clarke and Anderson are expected to play key roles for the Cobbers this season.

Anderson will be Concordia's starting running back against Minnesota State Moorhead in Power Bowl VI on Saturday.

Clarke should see action at defensive end.

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"It was hard to feel normal again because of all I had to go through," Anderson said. "Some things still feel different. But if I had never been able to play football again I don't think I ever would have felt normal."

Readers can reach Forum reporter Heath Hotzler at (701) 241-5562

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