ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Zack Mohs' room at Courage Center Golden Valley is full of photos, old and new.
In one, Mohs is on his skateboard soaring high above a set of stairs. He's smirking beside his two sisters in another.
Then there is the photo of Mohs at his lowest -- broken and bruised and in a coma at a hospital. It was taken last fall, two days after he was run over and dragged by a vehicle while trying to cross the intersection of Arctic Boulevard and Tudor Road in Anchorage, where he lived.
Mohs' mother, Cheryl Young, said it serves as a reminder for her 27-year-old son, who grew up in South St. Paul and is recovering from the Sept. 20 hit-and-run accident.
"I put it there because I thought if he ever had a day where he felt like he couldn't do something, I wanted him to see how far he's come," she said.
To see just how far Mohs has come, one must look at where he was eight months ago, his family says.
When he arrived in critical condition at Providence Medical Center in Anchorage, he had a traumatic brain injury, including bleeding on his brain, and fractured vertebrae. His elbow was shattered and both legs were broken. His left foot was severed. He had a fractured shoulder and broken ribs.
"The doctors gave me no hope he would ever wake up, walk again or even survive," said Young of South St. Paul.
Doctors were forced to amputate part of Mohs' left leg.
"He's been so strong," said his father, Jeff Mohs, who, like Young, jumped on the first flight to Alaska after being told of the accident, not knowing whether he would see his son alive again. "I believe he lost 40 units of blood that night."
After the accident, Young quit her accounting job in Minneapolis to be by his side. His sister, Molly Miller, dropped out of college. His other sister, Amanda Novotny, took time away from her banking job.
Mohs emerged from the coma on the 30th day, with his mother and sister Molly at his side.
"I prayed every day," Young said. "Now I thank God everyday."
In late January, after four months of healing in two hospitals, Mohs was flown to Minnesota for physical and occupational therapy.
"Zack has the internal drive and also the family support, which is always so important in getting better," said Angela Liuzzi, his occupational therapist. "His mom is his angel."
Now, physically, he is doing "amazing," Young said. He sat up on his own for the first time last month. He stood on his right leg, which has a metal rod through it. He can transfer from his wheelchair to a mat -- a big step that shows he is close to moving on to outpatient treatment.
"Every tear I cry now is a tear of joy," Young said.
Ken Krasselt said he was not the first person to see Mohs lying in the street. He was just the first to stop.
"I caught a glimpse of a nude body," Krasselt recalled. "His clothes were stripped off, not a stitch on him. I screeched to a stop ... blocked the street. I can't imagine why no one stopped."
What the 85-year-old World War II veteran did next saved Mohs' life, his family says.
Krasselt ran to Mohs and discovered he was still alive but in "horrific" shape. His left foot was ripped off, about 30 feet down the street. Blood pooled on the concrete.
"I ran back over to the truck and grabbed a blanket. I always carry a blanket and a tarp, because it's Alaska," Krasselt said.
He told his friend to call 911 while he covered Mohs. He said he took off his belt and "went to work" putting a tourniquet on Mohs' leg to try to stop the bleeding.
Mohs then did something that still makes Krasselt choke up: He raised his head and shoulders off the ground before falling back down.
"His brain was telling him that he's got to get up," Krasselt said. "That makes your heart sink. It was horrific ... one of the worst things. When I was in the Navy, I saw a few things in the South Pacific, but it was nothing like the brutality of seeing this body."
As others gathered to help, Krasselt yelled for someone to find a tow strap, which they used for another tourniquet before paramedics arrived on the scene.
"I didn't even know what to do next except go home," Krasselt said.
But he couldn't sleep, he said, because the sight of a tire track across Mohs' chest ran through his mind. The next day, he called the hospital to see whether Mohs made it through the night.
"A nurse said, 'Are you a relative?' I said, 'No, I found him on the scene and I did the best I could to help him' and that I wanted to know how he was doing," Krasselt said. "She asked for my name."
Soon, Mohs' father and mother reached out to Krasselt, who then visited Mohs and his family in the hospital.
"I just fell in love with the guy," said Young, who was at her son's side in Alaska every day. "This has been very traumatic for Ken, too, to see someone so broken and bloody."
Krasselt returned to the hospital every day.
"I just kind of adopted the family," said Krasselt, who had lived in southern Minnesota as a kid.
At the accident scene, police found parts of the red Pontiac Fiero that slammed into Mohs. A month later, police arrested Luke M. Jerde, 21, who said he was in the process of buying the car, which he ditched in a field after fleeing.
Jerde, of Anchorage, told police he did not see Mohs because the windshield wipers were not working, according to a criminal complaint charging him with felony assault, reckless driving, leaving the scene of an accident (failing to render aid), tampering with evidence and driving without insurance.
Since turning 16, Jerde has been cited for 10 minor traffic offenses, the Anchorage Daily News reported. Eight days before he allegedly hit Mohs, Jerde was cited for failing to exercise caution to avoid a collision.
'IT'S BEEN OVERWHELMING'
Young gets emotional when she talks about the continuing support for her son, a quiet, 6-foot-3 guy who loves skateboarding, drawing, music and his two small dogs.
"It's been overwhelming," she said, fighting back tears.
Support has come from close friends and complete strangers in South St. Paul and Anchorage, where Mohs worked as a bartender's assistant and had no health insurance.
In November, the bar held a benefit and silent auction, raising more than $20,000.
Ribbons were sold around Anchorage, as well as shirts with an image of Mohs' face that his sister Molly painted.
"Anchorage is a big city, but it's still really a small community," Young said. "And this was kind a big story up there. ... It was all over the news. People cared because what happened to him was wrong. I ran into a lady at a grocery store when I went to get him some snacks who was wearing a ribbon. I said, 'Oh, do you know Zack?' And she said, 'No, I just bought one because I cared.' I cried."
Back in South St. Paul, relatives of Young and Jeff Mohs, both of whom grew up there, began organizing a benefit. Held at VFW Post 295 in November, the turnout was so strong -- nearly $20,000 was raised -- that organizers almost ran out of food for the spaghetti dinner within an hour and had to buy more.
Jeff Mohs, who lives in Pennsylvania and flew in for the event, said the support did not surprise him.
"It's South St. Paul we're talking about," he said. "There were friends from high school I haven't seen in 30 years who were there."
This month, Young used some of the money raised to buy a lot for Mohs from the South St. Paul Housing and Redevelopment Authority at a reduced price.
Hamilton Taylor Homes has offered to oversee the building of a house at no charge, while an architect from Cornerstone Custom Design is drawing up the plans free, she said.
"We're holding out hope that there will be other people who will come forward," she said.
'A REMARKABLE YOUNG MAN'
When Mohs first arrived at Courage Center, he couldn't sit up by himself. After getting upright, he would often fall over.
Now, Liuzzi, his occupational therapist, said she and others marvel at his progress.
"Whether it's a year or two years from now, whenever, he's going to walk back into this clinic on his prosthetic leg," she said. "And we would have never said that the day that we met him."
On a recent afternoon, his therapy was interrupted by a special visitor: Krasselt, who flew in from Alaska.
When they met once again, Krasselt leaned down and gave Mohs a long, hard hug.
"I can't help but admire him," Krasselt said. "He's kind of like my son. ... It's hard to explain. He improved so much when he was in Alaska. And then to come here now and see him a couple of months later ... he's a remarkable young man."
Mohs was prepared for the visit. As part of his occupational therapy, he sketched a picture of a German shepherd for Krasselt, who used to own one.
When Mohs gave it to him, he wrote, "A token from Zack Mohs."
"I hope you like it," Mohs said softly. "I was frustrated ... because I know I can do better."
"I love it," Krasselt said, his deep voice cracking. "One day at a time, Zack."Photo gallery of Mohs' recovery
By NICK FERRARO
St. Paul Pioneer Press