Kristen Evers' phone rang about 6 p.m. Saturday. It was Sean Powers, her happy-go-lucky, outgoing, 22-year-old son.
Powers, who grew up in New Port Richey but now lives in Tallahassee, had driven to Charlotte, N.C., with Florida State University fan friends for the ACC Championship between the Seminoles and Georgia Tech.
"We're having a great time," he told his mom, Evers recalled Sunday. "Everything's good."
Four hours later, Evers' phone rang again. It was a surgeon at Carolinas Medical Center. Just after the 8 p.m. game started, Powers fell about 40 feet off a fourth-floor ramp outside of Bank of America Stadium. He was in critical condition; his injuries included a shattered kidney, which had to be removed, a fractured skull and a broken arm.
Friends told Evers her son had tried to hoist himself up on a railing to take a picture of the skyline. He slipped and toppled over, landing on a patch of grass near paramedics and police officers. He had been tailgating but his friends said he wasn't intoxicated.
"Sean has always been excitable and fun-loving," Evers said Sunday night as she sat in her eldest son's hospital room. "It just caught him."
Born and raised in New Port Richey, Powers graduated from J.W. Mitchell High School. He loves the outdoors, playing guitar and singing at open mic nights, his mother said. He had been working at a ski lodge in Breckenridge, Colo., up until a few months ago. He started to feel like he was drifting in life, Evers said, and decided to move to Tallahassee with the intention of going to community college.
Evers, 48, a nurse at Tampa General Hospital, flew Sunday to Charlotte. It has been a rough year for her three sons, who lost their father — John Powers, 49 — in February to a spontaneous brain bleed, Evers said.
Powers has orbital fractures around his right eye, and the doctors don't know if he'll see out of it again. They are also closely monitoring his surviving kidney and his liver. He was still in critical condition Sunday night, but there were encouraging signs, Evers said.
She asked her son if he was in pain. He shook his head no. She asked him if he could see her. His left eye opened, and he nodded his head yes. She asked him to squeeze her hand. He did.
She said, "I love you." His mouth, filled with a tube, motioned the words he couldn't say: "I love you, too."
Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.