Once he regained consciousness, the first thing Paul Young asked for was "hugs" as he lay in a hospital bed after losing his legs and left arm in a train accident.
More recently, the 28-year-old BNSF foreman has written notes to his wife, Amberly, saying "I love you."
He's even fist-bumped a nurse at John Peter Smith Hospital, just three days after a train ran over him, severely injuring the father of two.
"Honestly, he's the one leading us through this tragedy," said Paul's father, Mike Young of Fort Worth. "He's been in good spirits, pleasant and jovial."
Paul Young, who lives in Haslet, was seriously injured shortly before 9 p.m. Monday in the 5300 block of Blue Mound Road at the BNSF crossing. Young was working on a switch crew, but railroad officials were still investigating Thursday to determine what happened.
Young, a fourth-generation railroad worker, has been with BNSF since 2004.
Mike Young, who retired as a railroad worker a few years ago, said Thursday that he had not been told any details.
"I don't know if he fell or what," Mike Young said. "We'll just have to wait for the investigation."
Young underwent surgery Wednesday to clean his wounds and has seven more surgeries planned in the coming weeks, his father said.
For railroad workers, injuries are not uncommon, and one small mistake can be catastrophic.
Since 2002 in Tarrant County, there have been 111 accidents or incidents involving trains, resulting in 52 injured workers.
Statewide during the same period, 501 workers have been injured, according to the Federal Railroad Administration.
Paul Young was raised in New Mexico before moving to north Fort Worth, where he attended Fossil Ridge High School in the Keller district.
Young and his wife have two sons, Sam, 6 and Owen, 3.
He is involved in a program at Nance Elementary School in the Northwest district that promotes a safe and secure learning environment, and he recently changed shifts at his job so he could attend church and football games with his family.
Mike Young said a steady stream of his son's friends have visited the hospital. A fundraiser was held at his church, Alliance Community Fellowship, on Thursday night and more are planned, along with a blood drive.
"His friends have come in droves," Mike Young said. "When I finally managed to stop crying, I couldn't thank them enough. I'm so impressed with my son's friends. And I'm so proud of him."
Domingo Ramirez Jr., 817-390-7763