The condition of a teenage motorcyclist dragged for a block behind a pickup truck last week continues to improve.

Aaron Horsley's upper spinal column (vertebrae T2 through T9) has been fused together after the 17-year-old was dragged behind a white Chevrolet Silverado pick-up truck with temporary license plates on Wednesday, October 10.

"The first couple of days the surgeons, to quote them, they've said they've never, ever had someone survive with this kind of injuries," Aaron's mother Marilyn, a former Hesperia Star employee, said Tuesday afternoon. "It's amazing anyone could live through that."

But it hasn't been without a lot of help: Doctors at Loma Linda Medical Center have performed multiple operations on Horsley, a student at Hesperia High School.

"They said they've physically done everything that they can do, and now it's just up to him and God," Marilyn said. "They're working very well together."

Horsley's paralysis, which initially looked like it would prevent him from walking ever again, is diminishing rapidly. When doctors first examined him, he was paralyzed from the chest down. Over the weekend, he was paralyzed from the waist down. When his mother left his side Tuesday afternoon, he was only paralyzed from the thighs down.

"The thing working for him is that he's very young and that he's very athletically strong," Marilyn said. "He's a fighter, he's just a fighter."

Just don't expect him to be boxing any time soon. Sunday, Horsley underwent 11 hours of microsurgery to reconstruct his hands, which had dragged along the road as he was pulled behind the Chevy pick-up driven by the unknown motorist.

Although Horsley's right hand just needed a skin graft, his left hand was rebuilt using tendons and veins harvested from elsewhere in his body.

"They said the first 24 hours is the most critical," Marilyn said. "It's going on 48 hours and it's still going really well."

To prevent the delicate work from being damaged, "he has to not be able to move, so they have him highly sedated."

And that means as of Wednesday afternoon, Horsley will have spent almost a week breathing with the assistance of a tube down his throat. Doctors briefly tried to take it out earlier this week, but found he wasn't breathing well enough without the tube and put it back in.

"He had a few choice words, asked for a drink and said 'this is jacked up.' That's my kid."

Assisting in the healing process, Marilyn says, is the bedside presence of Horsley's older brother Chris, newly back from Iraq.

"The intimidation of the older brother is working."

Marilyn herself has been getting some heat in online forums, where some posters hold her partially accountable for what happened to her son. Horsley was riding an off-road bike on city streets near the intersection of Redwood Avenue and Kimball Street when he was struck by the white Chevy.

"He's a 17 year old kid. Of course we have rules, but kids break rules," Marilyn said. "That's not the problem. He got hit and drug by a man who left the scene of the crime."

And the posters blaming her seem to be missing an important fact, according to her:

"The guy turned right in front of him. So even if Aaron was on the street on a legal bike, that guy would have broken the law regardless."

San Bernardino County Sheriff's Department deputies continue to search for the motorist, and Marilyn has faith they will eventually find him.

"They think they might have a lead, but what they tell us is very little, because they don't want to compromise the investigation," she said. "So we don't know."

But for her youngest son, all he has to focus on right now is healing.

"He's progressing, actually, as good or better than they expected," Marilyn said. "They said he will be in intensive care for some time. The recovery time will be extensive, the rehab and that kind of stuff."

Beau Yarbrough can be reached at 956-7108 or at beau@hesperiastar.com.