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Out the Door

Out the Door
MASTER SGT. WANDA L. KAHL
Operational Support Airlift Agency
Fort Belvoir, Va.


Picture this: You live on a farm in North Dakota, the temperature outside is just 7 F and the ground is covered in snow. You’re in the house hanging out with about eight family members (mom, dad, cousins, aunts and uncles) when one of your friends calls and asks you to come into town for a little while. You tell everyone goodbye and head outside only to find somebody has blocked in your vehicle. A “normal” person probably would either get the owner to move the car or move it himself. But we’re talking about my family, and they are anything but normal. Here’s our story.

My mom and I were visiting my aunt and uncle, who live on a farm 30 minutes away from any sort of civilization. My cousin, who we’ll call Joe, needed to head into town, but two cars had blocked him in the driveway. My cousin, Naomi, gave Joe the keys to both cars so he could move them. This is where the trouble started.

For as long as I could remember, Joe had a bad habit of leaving the door open and leaning halfway out when backing up a vehicle. We all told him this was dangerous and that one day his luck was going to run out. I’m guessing by now you have a pretty good idea where I’m going with this.

Joe had to walk through about two feet of snow to get to the cars. After successfully moving the other two vehicles, he jumped into his truck. As he backed up, the snow stuck on the bottom of his boots started melting, which made the pedals slick. Suddenly, his foot slipped off the gas pedal and got caught between it and the brake pedal. While he focused on getting his foot unstuck, he lost his balance and fell out of the truck with his foot still halfway on the gas. The truck continued to travel backward — with Joe’s head dragging along the ground — and no one around to stop it! Eventually, the truck hit a building and came to a stop.

Back inside the house, my mom, aunt, uncle, cousins and I continued our visit, unaware of what was going on outside. After about 20 minutes, my aunt finally asked, “What happened to Joe?” Naomi went outside to check on him and saw the truck smashed against the building and Joe hanging out the door unconscious. Naomi ran back to the house to tell us what had happened. As I called 911, my aunt tried to revive Joe, but he was unresponsive. By the time the ambulance arrived, Joe was still out. The emergency personnel loaded him into the back of the ambulance and took him to the hospital, which was nearly an hour drive.

At the hospital, doctors diagnosed Joe with a broken neck and back and rushed him into surgery. Fortunately, the surgery was a success, but Joe faced a long and painful physical rehab ahead. His right arm was also badly injured, and the doctors were unsure if he would even regain feeling in his hand. Despite the severity of his injuries, they told him he must have had a guardian angel watching over him. Because of the length and the speed that he was dragged, he should have been dead.

Three years later, after many months of physical therapy, Joe is officially healed. He does not have all the feeling back in his right hand, but he did regain about 95 percent of it, which is better than doctors expected. This accident was one of the scariest things I have ever experienced, but it brought our family closer. We all learned life is too short and that we need to embrace it, taking nothing for granted. I am thankful to say that Joe also learned his lesson and quit backing up vehicles with the door open.

  • 1 December 2013
  • Author: Army Safety
  • Number of views: 13005
  • Comments: 0
Categories: Off-DutyPMV-4
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