Thursday, December 11, 2008

ATV accident ends as ‘miracle’, rider returns to Wolfpen Gap over weekend


ATV accident ends as ‘miracle’, rider returns to Wolfpen Gap over weekend

In what can only be described as a “miracle” by everyone involved in the occurrence, Melvin Phares defeated the odds after suffering an ATV accident at Wolf Pen Gap ATV Trails just over a month ago.

Phares and the rest of his party returned to Mena this past weekend to show their appreciation to all those involved who helped Melvin survive sure death.


Phares, of Shreveport, Louisiana, had traveled to this area in a party of eight friends, all from Shreveport, on the weekend of November 1 to enjoy ATV riding on the trails of Wolf Pen Gap. Making a regular occurrence to ride their vehicles, the trip that weekend wasn’t anticipated to be anything out of the ordinary. What they wound up with was an experience none of them will ever forget.


Making the trip up from Shreveport, the gang rented houses in the Caddo Gap area with plans to ride ATVs at the Wolf Pen Gap trails on Halloween weekend to enjoy the fall colors of the wilderness. Upon arriving to the trails on Saturday, November 1, the crew was wrapping up their day of riding by seeking out a cave along the trails. Melvin separated from the crew to wait on his wife before they were to reconvene with the rest of the team. Instead of going straight, as instructed, to catch up to the rest of the pack, Melvin proceeded to take a left turn. Although still daylight, he began traveling on a wrong path. Melvin began to travel up a hill, but didn’t proceed much further, and wife Josie was not as close to him as he first thought.


Noticing that the Phares couple had not caught up yet, a search began to find their location to rejoin up with the rest of the group. Max Timon, friend and co-worker of Melvin’s at Lander’s Dodge Dealership, was the first to locate Melvin, but found him in an unexpected condition. Melvin was underneath his four-wheel Arctic Cat vehicle after an apparent accident.


“As I drove up on him, I could see from 30 yards off that he had turned blue,” Timon said. “I first found him underneath his ATV not breathing.”


According to Timon, he threw the ATV off of Melvin, noticing that he had not suffered any other cuts or apparent injuries. Not ever facing the need to use CPR before, Timon began chest compressions to give Melvin a chance to gain a breath, which finally came in the smallest of fashion. He observed that Melvin’s nose was clogged and that his tongue has swollen nearly three times its normal size, preventing him from his normal ability to breathe. Going on his first reaction to move his tongue out of the way of his breathing passage, Timon stuck his fingers into Melvin's mouth and throat to give him a chance to breathe. Leaving his fingers in Melvin’s mouth to keep his enlarged tongue suppressed, Timon held Melvin in his arms in position for over an hour, praying for him every moment of the way.
Although still unconscious, Melvin slowly began to breathe slightly better, and after Timon noticed a gurgle in Melvin’s throat, he turned him on his side, where he remained until emergency personnel arrived.


With his wife Josie now by his side, she made the continuous proclamation that she was not letting go and was staying with him, according to Timon, and she assured him that she was there for him.
As time passed waiting for emergency personnel to arrive, it began growing dark across the trails. The 911 call was placed at approximately 6:00 p.m. by friend Tracy, but being in the location they were, they couldn’t be conveniently reached by any emergency staff.


The first sign of help came in the form of Gene Medford rumbling up the ATV trails in his personal Chevrolet Tahoe. Medford, having been a first responder for eight years and an EMT for a year and a half, took whatever measures necessary to get to the accident victim.


In addition to the arrival of Medford, many other local residents reacted to the emergency, and did their part in seeing that Phares was given a chance for survival. Among those involved were Steve Willson, Orville Murphy, Cliff Bentley, and Jason Head, of the Board Camp Fire Department, Ethan Smith, of the Big Fork Fire Department, and Cindy and Steve Egger, of Polk County Search and Rescue.


The Eggers delivered a Polaris 6-wheel vehicle that could endure the terrain that Phares had suffered his accident.


Throughout the uncertain moments of the accident site, Timon and the rest of the crew maintained prayer, and Josie kept reciting that she was there for her husband.


After getting him loaded on the flat board and stabilized, he was transported via 6-wheeler to the landing pad of the helicopter en route. Illuminating the landing pad with headlights from ATVs and a beam of a flashlight, the emergency craft made its arrival.


Thanks to EMS personnel Josh Butterworth, Wayne Blume, and Tony Baughman, then due to the professionalism of the LifeAir helicopter crew, Melvin was transported to the St. Michaels Hospital in Texarkana. Once there, it was evaluated that Melvin was 90% brain dead, and the family was in need of finding him a nursing home to spend his days.


With the accident occurring and his diagnosis happening on Saturday night, Timon’s mindframe remained that “we’re going to pray”.


The medical staff at St. Michaels continued do all they could within their power, and call it combination of faithful support, a stroke of good luck, or a miracle, Melvin began to show signs of improvement, although still unconscious.


Calls had been made to family and friends, Melvin’s boss and general manager came to pay their visit, but to their surprise, he awoke to them and called them by name.


Defeating all odds within a handful of hours, Melvin continued to recover and was out of the hospital within days of having what was likely a life altering if not life ending accident.


“God is good,” Timon said. “You have to believe in miracles.”


Melvin's son, Brad, flew in from Germany to see his father in the hospital, but what he never could have imagined was the Melvin would be at the airport waiting on his arrival.


Continuing to improve and gain strength, Melvin not only returned to work within two weeks, but also got back on his ATV to continue his riding ways.


Melvin, Josie, and the rest of the friends returned to Mena this past weekend, not only to take another ride at Wolf Pen Gap, but primarily to thank all those who were involved in their committed efforts on saving Melvin’s life.


Melvin gathered everyone together at the Chopping Block restaurant for an appreciation dinner, and officially met everyone for the first time.


“We can’t say thank you enough to everyone involved,” the Phares said. “It was a miracle, and without them, I wouldn’t be here today.”


While at Wolf Pen Gap Saturday, visiting the same trails and the accident site, Melvin again wrecked his Arctic Cat. He has now decided to sell it.


Timon’s quick thinking and commitment to giving his friend every chance to live, he only asked that Melvin do the same thing if anyone is ever in that same condition.


Miracles do happen.

*Above article taken from the Mena Star website*


3 comments:

Mrs. C said...

He was AT THE AIRPORT WAITING!!?? Wowwwweeee.

And good on ya JOSH!

Mrs. C said...

PS Love the little ornament on your profile pic!

religionandmorality said...

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