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Thread: My SCI accident

  1. #1
    Senior Member JustinB's Avatar
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    My SCI accident

    I've alluded to it a few times in a couple posts, so I thought I'd go ahead and post the entire story here.

    I was nearly finished with my pilot's license. I've flown 20 solo hours and almost 30 dual hours with my instructor, as well as about 20 hours in a twin (in air only or takeoffs only, no landings). The NTSB took my log book, but I think I had on the order of 150 takeoffs and landings.

    I was flying a Piper Tomahawk for training purposes.

    Last October I went for a flight with my instructor on a windy day to practice high wind manuevers and cross-wind landings. I had already completed a few touch and goes, then missed a landing. Powered up for a go-around, no big deal. Turning downwind at about 800 ft, the engine died. I took over flying while he ran through the restart procedure (carb heat, change throttle/mixture, change tank, verify fuel pump on, magneto change) then he took over for the crash.

    I don't remember about the last 10 seconds before impact, he doesn't remember a thing.



    I was told that we missed a building by about 20 ft, landed in the parking lot, had both the wings ripped off by going between two trees, then coming to a stop about 50 ft from a highway. So many ways the crash could have been fatal.

    Hard landing because of surrounded by trees and buildings.

    I came out with (just) an L1 burst fracture, 4 broken ribs, and got knocked in the head hard enough to knock me cross-eyed for a couple months (bruised nerve that controlls eye movement).

    My instructor is worse off, with a similar spinal injury, broken pelvis, foot, and femir.

    So, they life-flighted us to the local trauma hospital, but couldn't land there (high winds, remember?) and so took us to another one in the area.

    Apparently, I was in good enough shape to talk lucidly with people for a couple days while they waited for the swelling to go down before the surgery. I remember nothing of those days.

    After the back surgery (maybe during... Story is a bit fuzzy) I suffered a cardio-pulminary embolism (sp?). Apparently no lasting damage from that, but the docs didn't think I was going to make it. The head of the trauma ward stopped by later and said it kind of pissed him off, because they don't lose many people once they are stabilized in HIS center.

    Anyways, that's my crash story. I'm still trying to figure out how to get scans of my x-rays without a transparency adaptor (going to try shining a flash light on it). I love the pictures of the giant screws going through my spine.

    -- JB

  2. #2
    JB, I think most hospitals have electronic copies of your films/CT/MRI that you can request on CD.
    Daniel

  3. #3
    Wow, Justin. Major close call. I had not realized anyone else had been in the plane with you. I am really glad you and the other pilot made it through to this side. I'm glad you both survived.

  4. #4
    Wow, Justin. That was quite the close call for sure. I wandered about your story and am glad you shared it. I didn't know you had someone else in the plane with you either. I am sorry to hear he too has a SCI from the accident. I have never spoken to anyone who survived a plane crash. I bet you are among a small minority.

    Tanya

  5. #5
    what type of therapy have you received? What type of sci do you have?
    Mom

  6. #6
    Justin;

    That is an incredible story. That two people were spinal injured in the same accident is extraordinary. I live in Hood River. Which trauma center did you go to, Legacy Emmanuel? My son did his rehab at RIO with John Kafrouni as his Physiatrist. It has been three years, three long years. All things considered, it sounds like your pilot did an incredible job getting that plane down without a fatality.

    John
    "Hope is like a road in the country; there was never a road, but when many people walk on it, the road comes into existence." Lin Yutang

  7. #7
    Hi Justin,

    Do you do any computer flight simming now? MS Flight Simulator 2004?

    I gave my copy of MS Flight Simulator 2004 away because I only combat flight sim now. I like to blow things up and shoot things down! I fly and fight MS Combat Flight Simulator 2 & 3 when I feel like flying WWII vintage prop planes. But I mainly sim Lock On: Modern Air Combat (Lomac) updated to Flaming Cliffs v 1.11. Russian stable of 4 flyable jets plus the US A-10 Warthog and F-15C.

    If you're interested you can download the free 122mb demo HERE. Right side of page. I believe the demo only has the A-10 in it. You'll need a pretty new/fast computer to enjoy the sim in all its glory.

    It was a motorcycle wreck for me. After my accident I went along with my brother-in-law when he soloed for his instructor's license. I think it was for his instructor's license. We flew from Gainesville FL to Key West and back. Man, what a long flight that was in a tiny 172! We got caught in a squall over the gulf and I thought we were going down for sure. The rain was so thick I just knew some was gonna get into the damn carburetor and stall us out. I was making plans on how I was gonna get this paralyzed body out of that small cockpit after we ditched in the water. Flying is fun but can be awfully boring on a long flight. It's the take offs and landings that I enjoy the most.
    "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a great battle." - Philo of Alexandria

  8. #8
    Hi, Justin
    I'm glad to see you found this forum - it's a great resource. I'm a pilot and have flown out of Newberg Sportsman a number of times, although have flown only a bit since my wife's SCI. My son had a ride in that same Tomahawk for his birthday about 10 years ago. There's been a lot of speculation about what really happened during your accident. It was fortunate that the trees took the wings - that must have absorbed a good deal of energy. That day one of your CFI's employees was at my house setting up a firewall so I can work PT at home. My wife's SC was injured at St. Vincents during an op last June; rehab was at Providence Portland K5 center; we're near Newberg.
    - Richard
    Last edited by rfbdorf; 01-15-2006 at 04:04 PM.

  9. #9
    Senior Member JustinB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by john smith
    Justin;

    That is an incredible story. That two people were spinal injured in the same accident is extraordinary. I live in Hood River. Which trauma center did you go to, Legacy Emmanuel? My son did his rehab at RIO with John Kafrouni as his Physiatrist. It has been three years, three long years. All things considered, it sounds like your pilot did an incredible job getting that plane down without a fatality.

    John
    Hey John - yeah, I feel very lucky to be around for my own kids to grow up with (and vice versa...). Ended up at Emmanuel after they tried OHSU. I had some other complications that worked themselves out, but scared the hell out of my family. Afterwords, I also went to RIO and worked with Dr Kafrouni, who I found very helpful. He is the one who directed me here for research and questions.

    I'm doing well with my recovery, with some parts of my legs getting stronger every day. I'm telling the slacker parts to hurry up and get with the program

    I just got my TLSO off, and I'm returning to physical therapy next week.... Insurance are kind of jerks, and I only get a maximum of 30 sessions per year, so I was waiting to get the TLSO off to get maximum use of those sessions.

    -- JB

  10. #10
    Senior Member JustinB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bob clark
    Hi Justin,

    Do you do any computer flight simming now? MS Flight Simulator 2004?
    ...
    I was using MS Flight simulator quite heavily before the accident. Preflying my cross-country solos on the flight simulator was incredibly useful, and fun to fly it again afterwords.

    I am hoping that MS releases another version tied in with google earth or some such. 2004 had real time weather... I think it would be amazing to fly with the amount of detail that google earth could provide.

    Since the accident, I haven't flown a flight simulator yet. I'm hoping to get back to flying in a few years, finding something with hand controls if I don't get any ankle movement back...

    Every once in a while, I freak out thinking about other times I was flying. My second cross-country solo flight was through the Columbia Gorge with a 2500 foot ceiling that rose up to about 4000 ft when I flew back over the cascades; I was flying pretty low the entire time. I'm pretty sure that if the engine had died there, it would have been over.

    So, in other words, a bit later, but not right now

    -- JB

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