The Wreck

I was getting settled into a place for Rene’e, Darin and I.  They were to come join me just before Thanksgiving.
Oct. 27, 1967, my brother and I along with another couple spent that Sunday hiking in an old abandoned RR tunnel up off the Stevens Pass highway.  As it was getting dark we headed for home when we passed a car on the shoulder with it’s hood up.  After some brief discussion amongst ourselves we decided to go back and offer assistance.  Apparently a dead battery was the problem with the car so e parked nose to nose off onto the shoulder and started hooking up battery cables.  The first try didn’t seem to work and neither did the 3rd try.  We pondered the possible problem With my friends wife sitting in our car, my friend and my brother were leaning on the right fender and I was standing in between the cars with my right leg on the bumper of the disabled car.

Suddenly and without warning a 3rd car came down the highway at the speed limit ( 60 MPH) hitting the left rear of the disabled car with the offending car’s right front fender.  The 2 cars I was standing in between slammed together nearly taking off my left leg and together, the disabled car and I went over the bank to the right.  I remember the hood of the car slamming up and down, I was worried it was going to do some damage as it slammed down so I pushed away as best I could.  It suddenly got very quiet with only the river down below making the only sound.  Within less than a minute I heard my brother yell” where is Steve ?”  I responded with ” I am down here” and I reached up to my knee to pull myself up and felt a large rush of warm blood run down the inside of my jacket and some jagged bone.  I laid back thinking, shoot, I am not going anywhere without help.  At that moment I could hear my brother crawling down the hood of the car that had my right leg pinned under it.  He looked down with a flashlight and I distinctly remember him saying” Oh my gosh, don’t move” and he disappeared back up to the road.  Very soon there were several folks coming down through the brush to help.  I was very lucky in the fact that one of the very first persons on the scene other than those involved in the accident, was a Seattle firefighter. They immediately put a tourniquet on my left leg and started to extricate me but the car kept sleeping further down the hill someone shored up the car to prevent any more slippage.  I eventually was put on a backboard and eased up onto the highway.  It was like a war zone.  It was raining steadily with Police lights and headlights from several cars surrounding the scene.  I was eased onto a better backboard with someone with me to monitor the tourniquet.  My friends wife was there near my head talking to me keeping me awake.  The next thing I remember was asking about my friends and my brother.  They escaped with just some scratches.  The ride to the Monroe hospital seemed quick, quiet and smooth.

I was rushed into the emergency room and discovered I had a fractured left Tibia, 1/3 of the upper Fibula destroyed, the inner knee joint was crushed and a huge part of the calf muscle was like hamburger.

The emergency room doctors admitted he had neither the skill or equipment to fix the major parts that needed fixing right away.  All he could do was take the leg off just below the knee.  In lieu of that he thought the UW medical center in Seattle might be able to repair a lot of the damage.  They had doctors skilled in micro surgery and the equipment.

Three days later they thought I could keep the leg even tho’ it would take a lot of surgery’s.

The human body has about 1.2 – 1.5 gallons of blood circulating in the body.  I had gone through 3 times that amount.  I spent 8 weeks in the hospital.  During that time my wife and son came up but just for a visit because I no longer had a job at Boeing.  I had only worked on the line for 4 weeks after some jig builder training in Kent.  Several of the Boeing people I worked around came to see me with $ 800 from a collection and an amount I cannot remember from the Boeing company.

My friend’s insurance, the car I was riding in, paid me $ 10,500.  $ 8000 went to the University Hospital, $ 2000 went to my lawyer and I got the remaining $ 500.  The person that hit us was taken to the Snohomish County Jail for DUI and was released the following morning.  I had just gotten out of the emergency surgery about 6 AM leaving my parents no time to get to the Jail and file a complaint.  By the time agents ( ?) got to the offender’s home he had gone, to Texas I was told and never seen again by us.  To this day I wonder, where is the justice in the system ?

While in the hospital initially, I had 2 surgeries on my leg and 3 small skin grafts that were about 1.5 x 5 inches taken from my right leg to cover the open muscle on my left leg and battled several infections deep inside the damaged muscle. I spent 8 weeks in the hospital.

 Just before Christmas I was released to my parents home to convalesce.  While in the hospital they gave me Demerol for pain 5 or 6 times a day for the full 8 weeks.  When I got to my parents I had no good pain meds and it was a very tough 4 days withdrawing from the Demerol.

I was able to go back to CA just after the new year of 1968. Rene’e had moved from Monrovia to a house just across the alley from her parents home.  Flo, my mother-in-law was a huge help with the baby as Rene’e worked nights and I was still pretty weak from the wreck and the resulting stay in the hospital.  .

 I ended up with a crushed knee,  floppy left foot, the inability to move my foot left or right, up or down and the loss of feeling in my foot and up the left side of my calf to the knee due to a severed peroneal nerve

I made several trips back to the Seattle VA for more surgeries.

In July of 1968 I was being evaluated for the foot drop and trouble with deep tissue infections in left calf.

Sept 9, 1968 . They had to extract the lower left first molar that had become infected since I was there anyway and the infection hampered the cure of the infection in my leg.. I was their (Seattle, VA) for several days and then staying at my parents home until the next scheduled surgery.

Sept., 18,1968   They performed , at the Seattle VA hospital, an exploratory surgery to connect the peroneal nerve. Both ends were found but the gap was to great so the incision was closed. 9/26 I told the VA I wanted to go back home to Arcadia after the peroneal nerve exploration (to big of a gap to fix. ) They agreed and sent all my medical records to the Long Beach, CA., VA for further follow ups.

I had the GTO and was going to have the sutures taken out in Long beach VA but I soon (within an hour) realized the sutures were causing me difficulty using the clutch so I pulled over and took out 110 sutures myself  at a rest area off Interstate 5.

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