Being home for the holidays has a special significance for a Nemiah mountain racer and his family this Christmas.
Twenty-two-year-old Dax Setah nearly lost his life during this past summer’s mountain horse race after a horrific fall off his horse at the Williams Lake Stampede.
His skull was broken in three separate places after being crushed by a horse hoof during the incident, and Dax spent just over a month at Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops recovering. On his 22nd birthday on Aug. 1, Dax was released from hospital.
His mom, Margaret Lulua, said doctors told her it was a miracle he survived.
“They had to take the skull bone plates off for the brain swelling … he didn’t get those skull bone plates put back on until Oct. 29 when we went back down for his second surgery,” Lulua said.
Dax is recovering well, and said he was glad to be home to spend Christmas with his family.
“I feel pretty good,” Dax told the Tribune. “I’m very thankful. It could have been much worse.”
Following the crash, and upon reaching the emergency room at the Cariboo Memorial Hospital, doctors told Lulua her son had a 50/50 chance of surviving.
“They said even if he did he would never be the same,” Lulua said.
Dax — who was competing in his third year of mountain racing — still has a road ahead to a complete recovery.
He’s currently working on regaining full mobility of his left arm through physiotherapy.
“Two months ago my whole left arm went numb,” Dax said, noting he’s currently doing sports athletic physiotherapy with Britney Sukert twice a week and Tyler Judd once a week at Total Ice Training Centre. “My left hand and leg, it was like I’d had a stroke, had no mobility before.”
“I just keep getting better. I’m expecting a full recovery,” he said.
Asked whether his opinion of mountain racers, or the dangers of the sport, has changed, Dax simply replied no.
“We’re the last of a dying breed of horse people and the other thing was me and my buddy Dylan Lulua — we were talking — and he said if I do it we’ll both do it and that’s how we started three years ago.
“[The day of the crash] I just remember going halfway down and don’t remember anything after that. But it’s a risk everyone takes [in the mountain race].”
Dax explained his dad, David Setah, was in a similar incident in 2004 during the Nemiah mountain race at their annual rodeo.
“His horse fell and they started rolling, and my dad was still on the horse,” he said. “It peeled his head open. He suffered brain lacerations and a fractured sturnum, and he quit after that.”
Dax, too, said his days of mountain racing are finished, however, he still holds the sport and its competitors close to his heart.
Two of his best friends and fellow mountain racers Howard Lulua and Darren Sulin drove from Nemiah to pick Dax up from the hospital to bring him home the day he was discharged in Kamloops.
Upon his arrival home, friends and family gathered for a special 22nd birthday celebration in Williams Lake.
“I just want to thank everyone for all the support and the prayers,” Dax said. “My doctors — especially Dr. Omahen and Dr. Calder — grandparents Ubill Lulua and Julianna Lulua, they were there because they had come in on wagons that night for the Stampede, and my mom was there with me from day one. And for all the visitors in the hospital for coming by to see me.”
Margaret, too, said the family has received so much support, and is forever grateful.
“Even from people we don’t even know, people sending us money … they say it’s a miracle he’s alive. We are very thankful.”