ALTON — Liam Maher’s right leg helped him earn a college football scholarship. Now, the former Marquette Catholic High placekicker is engaged in a battle to heal that leg – and to walk again.
Maher, who graduated from Marquette last spring, prepared at summer workouts for his upcoming freshman season as a kicker at McKendree University in Lebanon. But last week, football took a back seat when Maher was involved in a motorcycle-automobile crash that left him with a compound fracture of his right leg – his kicking leg.
The injury was so severe that physicians initially discussed possible amputation.
But on Tuesday, blood flow to the bottom portion of the leg had improved enough that it appears he will be able to keep the leg, but still faces more surgery and a long recuperation.
“My first goal is to just be able to walk again,” Maher said Tuesday after going through his second surgery. “When I first came in, they were looking at amputation.
“Now, I’m just taking one day and one night at a time.”
Liam, according to Maher’s father, Bill Maher Jr., was riding his motorcycle southbound on State Street in Alton at about 4:30 p.m. near West Elementary School when a northbound car attempted to pass another vehicle and struck him nearly head-on. A third vehicle struck him after the first collision.
“I think the other driver reacted, so it wasn’t completely head-on,” Bill Mhaer said. “We haven’t seen the police report, but that’s the gist of what we learned.
“The third one that ran him over caused most of the damage to his leg, we think.”
According to his father, the driver of the vehicle that initially struck Liam left his vehicle and fled the scene, but as of Tuesday evening, had not been apprehended.
Liam was able to drag himself from the street to the sidewalk following the crash. He was taken by ambulance to Saint Anthony’s Health Center and from there was immediately airlifted by helicopter to a St. Louis hospital.
“I don’t know how he was able to drag himself out of the street with his leg dangling like that,” Bill Maher said. “There was three to four inches of bone sticking out of his leg.”
Liam had been going through summer workouts with the McKendree football team. Last year, he signed to attend the NCAA Division II school. He was looking forward to reporting to the first day of official preseason workouts Saturday, just two days after the accident.
“As far as football is goes, I just really want to concentrate on getting better,” Liam said. “I want to walk again.”
At Marquette, Liam scored 72 points kicking as a junior.
“He was phenomenal,” Marquette coach Darrell Angleton said of Maher. “Colleges really recruit on junior-year stats. He was very instrumental in our success. The number of touchbacks because of his kickoffs going through the end zone.”
Last season, Maher led the St. Louis area in kickoff average. He also averaged 36.2 yards per punt and made six of 12 field goal attempts, including a 44-yarder.
Reaction from Liam’s family, friends and coaches has been overwhelming.
“I’ve had a lot of friends and family stop by or call,” Liam said. “They’ve been great.”
One of the coaches who came to the hospital was McKendree head coach Mike Babcock.
“Coach Babcock came Saturday, but (Liam) was in surgery,” Bill Maher said. “Saturday was their first day of practice, but he made the time to come to the hospital and support.
“The Marquette family and the McKendree family have both been great.”
Former Marquette kicker Liam Maher suffered severe injuries to his right leg in a motorcycle-automobile accident last week in Alton. He was preparing for the fall season as a freshman kicker on the McKendree University football team.