(KPIX 5) — He was the last person to escape the Ghost Ship warehouse fire in Oakland alive. But he’s not in the clear just yet.
The night of the fire, Sam Maxwell managed to shoot off a text to his mom saying he survived, but little did he know that his fight for survival was just beginning.
KPIX 5 spoke with Sam Maxwell’s parents at Saint Francis Memorial Hospital.
They say they’re finally starting to see a silver lining. He’s out of his medically induced coma and has started physical therapy. He can’t talk yet due to smoke inhalation injuries, so his parents are telling his story for him.
Every single day Wendi and Bill Maxwell wake up and live the same nightmare over and over again.
Bill Maxwell said, “waking up at 3 o’clock in the morning and you know, either wanting to punch somebody or just cry.”
Wendi Maxwell said, “It’s just been like the Groundhog Day movie where you wake up everyday and it’s the same story and you keep wanting it to have a different ending and you wake up the next day and it’s still the same story.”
Their son was the last person to escape the Ghost Ship warehouse fire.
Wendi Maxwell said, “He texted me sometime in the middle of the night and it said,’I’m alive I’m out.'”
He had few physical burns but he inhaled so much smoke that he had to be placed in a coma for five straight weeks.
Initially he was taken to Highland Hospital in Oakland, but as his condition worsened he was taken to Saint Francis Memorial Hospital’s burn center in San Francisco.
Two weeks ago he woke up.
Wendi Maxwell said, “I’m fully convinced that if he had not been transferred here, if he’d been somewhere else, he would have died. And we would’ve lost him.”
Bill Maxwell said, “He’s very frustrated because, you know, he finds himself waking up. His brain is waking up in a body that is not responding to his commands.”
Sam still can’t talk because all of his muscles have atrophied from the coma, so he has to learn to do every physical motion all over again. But his parents know they’re lucky he’s still with them, it’s just unclear how long getting back to normal could take.
Wendi Maxwell said, “When Sam first went to the hospital the doctors kept predicting how long he was going to be here. And every time they made a prediction it turned out to be wrong. He’s on the road to recovery, he can take as long as he needs to take.”
Sam’s parents also say he’s always been an activist for the artist community in Oakland and they say once he’s healed, that’s exactly what he’ll go back to doing.