By Kim Staudinger
Close friends and family members waited anxiously along Old Post Road on Thursday afternoon in anticipation of Ryan Chagnon finally returning home.
Yellow ribbons lined the route that Ryan and nearly 20 other cars would take through Havre to the Chagnon house.
A white limousine was also there as a special surprise for Ryan.
Ryan's sister, Jessica, nearly missed the return as she stopped by the Blue Pony football practice to get some of Ryan's closest friends and classmates to join the welcome. No one could be left out of this special day.
As Jessica spotted her family's truck about a half mile from the intersection of U.S. Highway 2 and Old Post Road, cameras flashed, horns honked and tears began to flow.
Ryan was finally back in Havre, and this time for good.
The Havre High School wrestler was critically injured in a car accident April 13. Ryan, who wasn't wearing a seat belt, was thrown from the vehicle and was pinned facedown underneath it for eight to 10 minutes. He spent the last four months in a Great Falls hospital working on his recovery.
Ryan still needs the assistance of a walker to move around and will attend physical therapy and speech therapy for the next few months.
On Thursday afternoon, Ryan's dad, Wayne, could not stop the truck fast enough for Ryan, who opened the door in excitement before it had completely stopped at the intersection. Ryan, grinning from ear to ear, jumped out of the truck and started to walk shakily toward the crowd of well-wishers. Wayne rushed over to help his son walk to the limousine.
Cameras were flashing everywhere and elated people chattered with joy.
"Welcome home, Ryan," people said.
Ryan appeared to be in awe of his surroundings, knowing this was something he had waited for for months.
One person was missing from Ryan's special return Kaleb Fisher, who recently had broken his arm when he was bucked off his horse. Jessica said she promised Kaleb he could ride with Ryan in the limousine. Kaleb arrived moments later and Ryan finally was on his way to his house.
The parade of cars, led by Jessica, continued through town and on to the Chagnons' house with everyone honking their horns as they drove. The cars turned right onto the dirt road leading down the final stretch to the Chagnon home and then right again as they reached their final destination.
Ryan was home.
As everyone started to get out of their cars with all things going well, Wayne remembered they had forgotten Ryan's walker in Great Falls. But, the walker was suddenly forgotten as Wayne began to help Ryan out of the limousine and realized Ryan had not been wearing his seat belt.
"You weren't wearing your seat belt either, were you?" Wayne said.
Ryan, with a look of embarassment, looked up at his father and slowly shook his head no.