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Forum topic by DonB posted 03-15-2020 08:17 AM 1646 views 0 times favorited 16 replies Add to Favorites Watch
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590 posts in 3845 days

03-15-2020 08:17 AM

Topic tags/keywords: safety

Four months ago, my son-in-law was doing what he usually did – spending his spare time helping a fellow church member complete a project. Left alone for just a few minutes, the man returned to find Gary (age 59) on the cement pad, having fallen from about 25 feet.
Gary remained totally unresponsive for three very long days in a hospital in Johnson City, TN. He had sustained head trauma, broken ribs, pierced lung and was not breathing on his own. Doc gave him 50-50. Having six daughters and a son, Gary’s spot in ICU was monitored 24/7 by one adult-child, having put their own families’ on hold.
Like a small military assignment, each made a comment as to dad’s condition after each “watch”. Initially the only comments on their Facebook pages was that dad continued to breathe.
To shorten the story, they began to record little things the kids saw as progress. The nurses disliked cleaning Gary as he would fight them at the slightest touch. Progress included opening his eyes, looking around, but having the “no one’s home” look to his eyes. Eventually he could recognize his children. His eyes would stop on the person whose name had been called. Once Staff removed his breathing tube, his food tube, and a few miles of wires at about the 2 1/2 week point, Staff had to put alarms on his bed because Gary kept trying to get up and out – he didn’t know why he was there, but 2 1/2 weeks was long enough, he was going home. Gary was never late for work and had a ritual in getting ready. The girls noticed that in the hosp. when 4 pm came around, Gary was very restless, wanting to get up, etc…. It took a couple of days to figure out he was trying to get to work and continue to be on time for his shift.
Now home he still speaks in a whisper, still has major word-finding-difficulty. His balance is not rock solid and he may have compressed his spine when he hit the cement. He seems nearly well medically, but lagging behind mentally. Testing confirms the vast difference in prognosis. My daughter has to watch him. He is ready to follow through on a thought in a flash. Yesterday she found him, having tied a ladder to a tree (he knows he fell from a ladder) – but it was the CHAIN SAW in the other hand that caused immediate action by my daughter.
Doc says its unlikely he’ll return to work as an electrician, but may find another field. No one can see Gary sitting still for very long. After Hurricane Hugo in Charleston, SC Gary helped cut trees off people’s houses who had no ins. and never charged them a dime. That’s just the way he was. He physically helped build the church they attend.
Even tho his accident was not work related – his company paid for insurance to cover them for 24 weeks, his church members have helped with money, animal feed for a couple of months. He can receive aid but its the six months or so delay that can crush them. His frustration level is very high as he knows his brain is not functioning well. A couple of guys helped him reconnect a water line. Gary got the right tools, even the correct sized sockets and shifted the connection, but could not explain to my daughter what he had done, or even why. So I post this to remind people that others’ are good people at heart. I also post this to remind 59 year olds that like helping others not to reach beyond the safe limits of balance on a ladder and NEVER LET THE SECOND PERSON ON THE LADDER LEAVE THE AREA. Gary’s whole life changed in less than maybe 20 seconds. DonB

-- DonB

16 replies so far

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2064 posts in 2802 days

#1 posted 03-15-2020 12:41 PM

Don’t let my wife see this She panics whenever I am doing almost anything. I did find when painting my workshop, I am just not comfortable 20 feet on a ladder like I was when I was 20. I don’t like getting on the roof any more. Hard to give it up as I am cheap, but it is time.

My best wished for Gary and his family.

View DonB's profile


590 posts in 3845 days

#2 posted 03-26-2020 03:56 AM

Thanks tvrgeek. I roger your feelings on a ladder. The last time we did the house I sprayed the whole thing on a ladder – was petrified every single minute.
UPDATE: Gary gets around as well as anyone now. According to my daughter, his mental improvements seem to have leveled off. Even tho we all remain hopeful, it appears that Gary is as good as he is going to get mentally. His sense of humor is still very apparent. Always ready with a wise crack – even if it has a slower delivery. He is aware he almost died and admits to wanting to live. The plant manager and plant owner have visited Gary both in the hospital and at home. He can come back to work as soon as the Doc gives the OK. Gary has verbalized his understanding that his job may be different than it was – but that they still value him. Getting the Doc’s OK may be more difficult than he thinks. Time will tell.

-- DonB

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4399 posts in 1059 days

#3 posted 03-26-2020 04:19 AM

I remember when i started working at the cable company during the initial training the instructor went over safety, explaining that the leading cause of death and injury are car crashes and 3rd(i think) was falling from high places. He then said “guess what you guys are going to be doing? Driving around 10 hours a day climbing telephone poles and 30 foot ladders”. Some people dropped out, and during my 2 years there, 1 guy died, fell off a ladder on a very hilly area so was pretty bad.

View Kelly's profile


3633 posts in 4097 days

#4 posted 03-26-2020 04:34 AM

PRAYER (more of them).

And thanks for the reminder.

View DonB's profile


590 posts in 3845 days

#5 posted 06-13-2020 07:21 AM

UPDATE: The Power of Prayer. Gary has regained full physical abilities except his voice. He talks in a whisper. Doc’s are not sure why, but that is the only apparent physical/mental impairment. It took a full six months, for him to regain all his faculties. His work company paid in cash, for 6 months insurance because, at the time of the accident, the only insurance he had was work related and this was not work related. I was really overcome with respect for the company, to pay out of pocket for his insurance, which by the way paid in full. He was called to work the beginning of June 2020, for a two hour session with the company boss. The session ended with the boss stating that if Gary could get blessed by the Doc, he could return to work. Gary got blessed by the Doc last week, completed all the paperwork and returns to work the end of June. What position he will have remains to be seen. But for a guy who has to be doing something all the time – the idea of returning to work makes him act like a kid in a candy store. For those of you who offered a prayer for Gary – Thank You.

-- DonB

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13563 posts in 3533 days

#6 posted 06-13-2020 07:59 AM

Great ending to an incredible story. A friend of mine fell from scaffolding and landed on a pipe. He spent a long time in the hospital and ended up on disability for life. Best thoughts to Gary and his family.

-- Rick M,

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5316 posts in 3142 days

#7 posted 06-13-2020 10:49 AM

Such a great outcome…A miracle

View r33tc0w's profile


209 posts in 1637 days

#8 posted 06-14-2020 04:24 AM

Wow. Praise God.

-- Matthew 13:53-58

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181 posts in 1255 days

#9 posted 06-14-2020 05:54 AM

Really glad to hear Gary is making that amazing recovery. That’s the type of company I prefer to give my business to and I see you’re right around the corner from me. If it’s local can you send me their name?


-- Measure Once Cuss Twice

View GR8HUNTER's profile (online now)


8594 posts in 1865 days

#10 posted 06-14-2020 02:06 PM

Romans 15:13
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.

-- Tony---- Reinholds,Pa.------ REMEMBER TO ALWAYS HAVE FUN :<))

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4262 posts in 5088 days

#11 posted 06-14-2020 02:30 PM

Don, Glad to hear he has recovered so well and that he will be able to return to work. So true about how quickly things can change. I have know a few people currently that are struggling after accidents.
Thanks for sharing, best wishes to Gary and the family.


-- Chris L. "Don't Dream it, Be it."- (Purveyors of Portable Fun and Fidgets)

View 987Ron's profile


1606 posts in 469 days

#12 posted 06-14-2020 02:36 PM

Just had my cousin fall 20ft. from a ladder. Spent 6 days in the hospital with a broken heel. He is a retired painter of water towers. Should have known better. Not the severe injury of Gary but another reason for me to consider giving away all my ladders over 6 ft. I do not need to be tempted to get it done or save some money. At 82 I need to stay on the ground.

-- Ron

View therealSteveN's profile (online now)


8175 posts in 1727 days

#13 posted 06-14-2020 02:46 PM

Prayers that Gary continues on the path to full recovery, and prayers to all of those he loves, so they can remain by his side. God bless you all.

-- Think safe, be safe

View Renegade1LI's profile


53 posts in 548 days

#14 posted 09-11-2020 06:28 PM

What a great ending, makes you think before you act. I am the site super, competent person & safety manager & having been in construction for 40 years I have seen a big change towards safety. It used to be the wild west, but thankfully those days are gone, safety now drives the project. I have heard feed back from a few guys how their training has actually carried through to the performance off the job site & at home. They seem to be taking the safety training home with them, which is great. What we have learned over the last few years is that safety & productivity can go together, when the the whole crew, from the top down follows protocol the job flows very smooth & the work gets done just as fast. If you figure what 1 bad accident does to a project, not to mention those hurt, it costa way more than following the correct procedure. Stay safe.

View controlfreak's profile


2463 posts in 754 days

#15 posted 09-11-2020 07:17 PM

Just shy of 60 here and many years ago could jump around a house on a forty foot ladder when I painted houses. Later on I would stand on a ten foot ladder if that would get it done. Now I fear ladders. A couple of years ago I was close to the top of a 14’ ladder and had a panic attack because I thought I was falling but had no idea what direction. I didn’t fall but things have changed in my balance abilities. I need to hire out the high stuff now.

So glad to hear Gary is doing well. Someone is looking over him.

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