Sunday, November 21, 2010

Hell's Revenge ATV accident

Fred's log dictated from his hospital bed on November 21

"The day started out as any other day. Jonalyn, Dale, baby Finn and Mina and I were in Moab UT for a 4 day ATV and outdoorsing vacation. After a morning hike and lunch Dale and I took off for some ATVing to a trail called Finns and Things which was near by.
I rode our 2 seater ATV that weighs about 700 lbs. After 15-20 minutes of riding we came to Hell's Revenge trail, (which Fred has movie of taking in his jeep at Fred's youtube site)
Because my red bombardier has a longer wheel base I decided to ride down it which I did successfully although I got a little bit of air on the back tires doing it. When we went around the exit of Hell's revenge, Dale stood aside to film it. I never have been quite as confident with ATVs as with the jeep because of the small wheel base and narrow width. As with most accidents you are able to look back afterwards and think, "That was really stupid." I should've connected my winch to Dale's winch up on top so if the ATV did topple backwards, the winch might have stopped me from rolling all the way over. I had already pushed my weight as far forward to keep the front end down but the ATV has so much power it didn't take much throttle to lift the front end up. So as I ascended, it lifted on the right tire and tipped over atop me as it fell backwards. When things like this happen its a blur and hard to recollect exactly what took place. I knew as it came down on top of me that something had messed up my hips. And when the vehicle stopped moving, my helmet was pinned between the ATV and the rocks; I could tell the strength in my legs was gone.

I yelled, "GET THIS THING OFF OF ME!" twice and Dale was there in just a moment. My concern was that it would continue to slide down the slope and drag me with it. Not having any leg strength I would be helpless to stop it since my head was pinned and legs were not working. Dale hit the kill switch and then was able to brace his legs against the ATV and give me freedom to release one arm. I had to get my free arm underneath the helmet chin strap. With a couple more heaves Dale was able to give me more room and I unhooked the strap to get the helmet off. Now I could see more and talk to Dale about what kind of angle to get so I could pull myself out. The only direction I could go was downhill. Fear & adrenalin are tremendous motivators, and I was able with my arms to pull myself out from under the ATV. My concern was that Dale needed to call or get help but if he let go the ATV could slide down so I had to crawl or slide myself downwards. I had to turn myself around so I would scoot downhill feet first by pushing with my elbows and wrists downhill.

When I got to the bottom the rock turned to sand, so it was harder going. I had given myself a tremendous wedgie with all that scooting, but that was the least of my worries. Dale felt the ATV was secure enough that he could let it go for awhile and grabbed my left leg which seemed to have less damage to help pull me thru the sand out of the course of the ATV if it broke loose. Once situated Dale said he would run up and try to get cell service to call for help. It was starting to get dark. I was laying face down in a sand patch. I heard him run up, start the engine and drive away. I had a brand new pair of ATV overalls and a wool sweater so I knew I had some insulation but I could feel the cold and I knew that shock would be something I would have to control. So I kept taking deep breaths and of course I was conversing with the Lord at the time. After a while I heard Dale's ATV come back and then run down the hill to where I was. He made contact w search and rescue and they had said it would be about an hour before they could get there.
The sand was damp and I started to feel the dampness come through on my legs. I told Dale where he could find a light on my ATV and where my SARSAT beacon was. When it was dark having even a little bit of light can lift your spirits. Dale got several of the crack and shake lights out and the headlamp along with the neat flashlight that Philip got me and the beacon that my son Jacob foresaw would be strategic. Dale brought me the beacon and I activated it. Even though Dale had given Search and Rescue the coordinates, the SARSAT gave them the exact coordinates where I was laying. Dale had called Jonalyn to alert her and Mina of what had happened.

To fight off the shock possibilities I asked Dale to tell me a story to keep my mind off of what was going on. Dale is an expert story teller. He began to tell me his version of The Voyage of the Dawn Treader which he knew from memory and it really helped a lot.

Eventually we heard vehicle engines and people started showing up. Because I was chilled Dale had loaned me his coat and they brought a down sleeping bag to lay on me. They shot me up with pain killers and relaxers and before too long I heard a helicopter coming.
They rolled me over and I again felt my hips popping and scraping bone against bone internally as I had felt while sliding down the hill. I was strapped to a board and they had trouble getting my tall frame into the door of the helicopter. Things are a little sketchy. I don't think I lost consciousness but I don't remember details of the flight to Grand Junction. One individual I was grateful for took my head in his two hands and made eye contact with me and let me know what was going on and let me know that they had a training crew in the ER so there would be twice as many people in the room as usual. Initially the x-rays were extremely painful because they would roll me. They did a full CT scan to look for internal injuries as well. I was fortunate that although I was bruised up a bit there were no internal injuries or perforation of the intestines. I had 4 pelvic factures and the vertebrate in the tailbone was cracked. So there is your gory details."

Tonight dear friends our family is thankful to you all for your prayers of encouragement in God’s strength and in his healing touch. Fred was MUCH improved today. Physical therapy came in and tried to get him to sit up in the bed but there was still too much pain. He did progress towards it though and although the progress may come slowly we see God’s hand of healing. Again, Fred and I have been very well supported by Jonalyn and Dale here. Much love and time of regeneration among us. Fred could easily have been killed. But God has protected him and we thank you for lifting us to God’s red alert attention with your prayers. So thankful to our great God for weaving our story with redemptive themes.

PS. Yes we do have footage of the accident on the camera that Dale took just before he threw the camera down to rescue Fred. I imagine Fred will post that at a later date. Too scary.