Positive Spin: Six months later, crash victim meets rescuers who saved his life

Posted by on December 16th, 2011 at 8:56 am

Jim Phillips had to wait six months
before he could thank the people
who saved his life.
(Screen grab from KOIN-TV)

It might sound trite, but Jim Phillips truly is lucky to be alive. Jim, 68, was on the Pioneer Century ride this past summer, enjoying a perfect day in the saddle, when he crashed hard on a steep downhill.

The crash broke Jim’s ribs, neck and back. His lungs were punctured which led to severe internal hemorrhaging. He cried out for help, in “agonizing” pain, from far down in a ditch. But no one heard him. It wasn’t until he pulled himself to the side of the road that he finally got some attention. The four people that stopped to help him couldn’ have known it at the time, but their actions very likely saved Jim’s life..

“Without you two and the biking community/extended family this reunion would not have taken place. That would have left a terrible void and desperate need in my life.”

Eventually, Jim was LifeFlighted to the hospital for his injuries (the crash occurred in a very rural area). Doctors said he would have died had he not gotten such capable and quick help.

Now on the mend, Phillips wanted to thank his rescuers but he never learned (or couldn’t remember) their names. He even went on KOIN-TV earlier this month in hopes they’d come forward. Well, eventually the people who saved Jim’s life did come forward and he finally got to thank them.

For this edition of Positive Spin, I got Jim’s permission to share an email about his ordeal that he sent to the ride organizers earlier this month:

On a fast descent during
the Pioneer Century.
(Photo © BikePortland)

“Several weeks ago I had a chance to speak with the guy that made the 911 call. He was excited to hear how things turned out for me as I was to tell him how much I appreciated him stopping to help out. That call made me even more anxious to locate the others I needed to thank.

I will never forget the phone call I got last Thursday when the fellow on the other end of the line said “I’m Luke Stevenson. I’m the guy who held your head”. It was an emotional moment for me. For over 6 months I have wanted to personally thank the 4 original people who came to my rescue. They were the lady who heard my yes to her “do you need help” question, then the two guys who came back up to me after I heard her yell “we need to go back up there that guy needs help” and lastly the lady whose son was a rider and she gave my cycling buddy, his bike and my bike a lift back to the fair grounds. Of course one of those two guys turned out to be Luke.

When he took my head in his hands and told me to not move and that he was in control of my head, I felt a calm come over me that was sustained through out the long wait for the ambulance. He had a very reassuring voice and did an amazing job of distracting me from the pain by asking me a long list of questions. After meeting him in person, it just confirmed what a calm, confident and competent person he is.

Without you two and the biking community/extended family this reunion would not have taken place. That would have left a terrible void and desperate need in my life. I expressed this on camera but unfortunately it did not make it to TV. At the same time I am glad to have the opportunity to express this on a more personal level…

As you might imagine there are even more cyclists to thank. Those that rode back up the hill to call 911 since we were in a cell phone shadow, and those who took on traffic control for the downhill and uphill traffic. Once again proving it takes a community.

One of the things I have said is that I have encountered angels in all this.They are the ones that unselfishly provided help above and beyond. You two are the latest of the angels I have met.

Have a happy holiday season. I already have.

Jim

Jim told me last night that he’s feeling much better these days. He’s still doing physical therapy for his neck, which he says may, “very well may not get back to where it was but if that is the only lasting affect then I feel very very lucky.”

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K'Tesh
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K'Tesh

That is a good story… Prayers for a quick and complete recovery Jim!

jim Phillips
Guest
jim Phillips

K’Tesh thanks for your prayers which were premptively answered. The doctors said I would not be back to work for 3 to 6 months. I went back to work 7 weeks after the accident. Yahoo!____Jim

Jim Phillips
Guest
Jim Phillips

K’Tesh thanks for your prayers. They were premptively answered. The doctors said I would not be back to work for 3 to 6 months. I went back full time 7 weeks after the accident. Yahoo!___Jim

JP
Guest
JP

I remember that crash – I passed by him as they were stabilizing him – I always wondered how it turned out…certainly good news and hope for continued repair/success

jim Phillips
Guest
jim Phillips

JP, you are like me. I am always curious to know the rest of the story. Another curious person was one of the persons that got through to 911. When I got Craig Ospbos number a few weeks ago and called him he said every ride he subsequently went on, he and his biking buddy brought up the accident and wondered the outcome. He said he could not wait to call his buddy and say ” you won’t believe who I just talked to”.____Jim

Jim Phillips
Guest
Jim Phillips

JP, you are like me in that I am always curious to know the rest of the story. Another such person was one of the 911 callers, Craig Ospbo. When I called him a few weeks ago he said on subsequent rides he and his riding buddy always brought up the accident wondering what was the outcome. After I brought him up to date, he said could not wait to call his buddy and say “you won’t believe who I just talked to”. I am glad to have provided the rest of the story especially since it has a happy ending.___Jim

Steve B
Guest

What a beautiful story. Glad you’re on the mend, Jim!

It’s exciting that this sort of helpful mantra is so prevalent in to the cycling public. Be Kind, Don’t Leave a Rider Behind! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p4GPRRwfPOk

Jim Phillips
Guest
Jim Phillips

Steve, boy do I agree with that. After crawling up the embankment on the opposite side of the road where no one could see me or hear me, I got to the road sholder on my hands on knees. A couple of cyclists passed me by but I am thinking they thought I was throwing up and I can’t fault them for not stopping. Plus when I yelled out yes to their “do you need help” I am sure the wind noise drowned out my reply. That is why I am still hoping to find the mystery lady who did hear my reply to the same question from her. She is the one who set the rescue in motion.___Jim

Matt
Guest
Matt

I was one of the people that who rode up the hill to make a 911 call. I knew he was in bad shape but had no idea just how bad. So glad to hear you made a full recovery Jim.

jim Phillips
Guest
jim Phillips

Matt thanks so much for your efforts. There you were wanting to enjoy the best downhill of the day and instead you turned around and biked back up. I feel badly I put you in that position but also much appreciative of what you did.___Jim

Jim Phillips
Guest
Jim Phillips

Matt, there it was the best downhill of the day and perfect conditions and you biked back up the hill! I feel badly I created that situation for you to do that but very appreciative you did. Yep that is angel qualifying action.___Jim

John Lascurettes
Guest

Wonderful.