Washington senior fights, survives to reach potential

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WASHINGTON, Ind. (WTHI) — As a senior on the Washington High School football team, Austin Fox might be considered a big man on campus. But that wasn’t always the case for the Hatchet’s leader.

“He’s the epitome of it’s not how you start, but how you finish,” said Jake Durnil, Washington’s head football coach. “He plays football the same way. He’s a fighter, a survivor, and coming from what he did is just a testament to who he is as a person.”

“It instilled faith really,” Fox said. “I owe it all to God. He’s the reason I’m here. That’s all I can break it down to, is just faith.”

When Austin’s mother was pregnant she found out she’d be having triplets. But Amy Tuley always knew her son would be strong.

“My uncle called him Hercules, because he was lower in my belly and he was lifting the girls up,” Tuley recalled. “So, we knew he was going to be OK from the beginning, but the other two girls we needed to worry about, and yes we did.”

Just 23 weeks into the pregnancy, while Austin’s father Richard was on the golf course, Tuley went into labor. As Richard raced to the hospital, Tuley was transported in an ambulance with a young nurse, Shawna O’Kelley-Brinson.

“Not only were the babies going to be very premature, but I was the only nurse in the ambulance and there were three babies that were going to be coming,” O’Kelley-Brinson remembered. “So that certainly made it very scary experience.”

“I would not let go of her hand,” Tuley said. “She literally had to pry her hands, my hand off her hand, to get another person to grab on.”

At birth, Austin weighed just one pound and 12 and half ounces. He was the only triplet to survive.

“I’m standing there looking at him, and something just said he’s all right,” Richard Fox, Austin’s father, recounted. “You need to focus on your girls and spend what time you can with them. I’ve got him. And it was an amazing thing, As bad as it was, it was also a blessing.”

“I questioned a lot why is this happening,” Tuley added. “Why did I get pregnant with triplets? I questioned that constantly. And then I just came to the conclusion that everything happens for a reason. I mean, the Lord has got a plan for Austin. He is a special kid. He will do something great.”

Now Austin is a three-sport athlete. He’s heading to Indiana State to become an educator so that he can give back. Until then, though, he just looks forward to getting back out of the field on Friday nights.

“It’s awesome,” Austin Fox said. “It’s a thrill. It’s a joy being on that field and just playing.”

Washington High School continues sectional play this week in the IHSAA tournament. The Hatchets will face off against Evansville Memorial, the team that upset favorite Gibson Southern in the opening round.