Nathan was riding his bicycle near campus when a turning motorist hit him and trapped him under her car. A helmet protected Nathan's head, but his lungs collapsed, depriving him of oxygen for 15-20 minutes. Despite the best of care, Nathan was left unable to move his body, react to sound, or have any awareness. His neurological exams showed only the most primitive brain stem functions. Until he died six months later, Nathan existed in a persistent vegetative state.