Chris and his wife, Connie, are not only thankful on Thanksgiving in November, but also on Nov. 17, a day Chris calls his “Celebration of Life.” Seven years ago Chris survived a work accident that took his foot and put his life in jeopardy. Chris and Connie are continuously thankful for every person, known and unknown, who helped save Chris’s life and have helped him through the struggles since.
Chris was a DOT operator, and on Nov. 17, 2005, he had just returned from a run to check, clean and salt roads. He was cleaning the bed of his salt truck when he knocked a block of salt-free and the auger caught his work glove, pulling his arm in. Chris was able to pull his hand out of his glove, but his foot slipped and the auger got a hold of his work boot. While holding himself out of the auger, he grabbed his cell phone and called the shop to let them know he was in trouble.
Fellow DOT employees Kim Sheehy and Charlie Dighton ran to Chris’s aide, with Dighton shutting the truck down, stopping the auger that had been gnawing on Chris’s foot and leg. Another employee, Erich Eggers, noticed a large amount of blood coming out of the back of the truck. Knowing blood loss was a concern, Erich created a tourniquet out of his belt, wrapping it around Chris’s leg.
The Manchester police and RMC emergency personnel soon arrived, as did family members. As rescuers worked to free Chris, his family prayed. Connie, going against advice, visited Chris and gave him the strength to continue holding out during the rescue.
Chris was treated at St. Luke’s, where a decision was made to amputate his foot because there was a high risk of infection. Despite losing half of his blood, being feverish from infection and undergoing multiple surgeries, Chris was able to be discharged from the hospital in less than a week after the accident.
Chris came to Clark & Associates and met with several of our practitioners. After learning about Chris’s life, what he did and the daily activities he was involved in, we went to work helping Chris get back to his normal life. Chris says the Clark staff “gave and still gives real concern for me.” He may have been a challenge for John C., Chris said, because of his work at the DOT and other activities like farming, deer hunting, and horseback riding. Chris says his biggest challenges have been getting in and out of tight spaces to work on equipment, getting on and off horses, climbing bin ladders and having to adjust every vehicle and piece of machinery he drives to make it safe. However, his future plans are focused on “farming and never giving up” because giving in would be letting down those that help save his life.
“There were many that played a hand in saving my life that day, and in the successful recovery that followed,” Chris said. “We thank God for answered prayers and for angels and heroes among us.” Chris lists these angels and heroes as the Iowa DOT crews, Manchester Police Department, Manchester Fire Department, RMC emergency personnel, St. Luke’s Air Care and hospital staff, Clark & Associates, his wife, Connie, and the unknown blood donors whose gift helped save his life.
Chris personifies the thankful spirit that this month and the Thanksgiving holiday embodies. We are grateful for his story and for having the chance to have worked with such a great individual.