At 6pm on June 13th,2009 I had just gotten off of work and decided to go for a ride on my new ATV. About a month earlier, I had purchased a brand new 2008 Polaris Sportsman, which was my first ATV and possibly my last.
By Blake, a SurvivalCache.com Reader
My New ATV
My first month with my new Polaris was spent at this nice little spot in the woods where I was carving out a trail system. I never told anyone about the trail system that I created; I wanted it to be a surprise for my friends. This, along with leaving my mobile phone at home, were the two biggest mistakes I made that day. At the end of this trail was a natural made bowl with dirt ramps on all sides. This was where I nearly met my demise.
I spent a few days carving out those trails and playing around with those dirt ramps. I started to feel a little too comfortable on my ATV, I started to get cocky. I headed back as far away as I could from the jumps, aimed my ATV at the largest ramp and gunned it. It never once crossed my mind that there was an enormous tree growing only a few yards away from the ramp. By the time the ATV came down, there was no room to maneuver. I crashed straight into this monster tree at full speed causing my T12 vertebrae to fracture and snapping two of my ligaments in my back.
Surprisingly, my back was the only thing that had been broken after this horrific crash. I failed to realize my injuries right away. Thanks to adrenaline, I was able to walk around for a few moments only concerned about the damage to my ATV. Only when I sat down did I realize there was something wrong with my body. When I tried to get back up, I buckled under my own weight and a terrible flash of pain went through my whole body. I immediately thought about my phone and crawled back over to my ATV. I normally kept my phone in the cargo container on the side of the ATV but it wasn’t there and I knew I was in serious trouble.
My house was about 3 miles away from where I crashed and no one would know where I was located. I didn’t even bother yelling for help because I knew no one would hear me. My wife was at home in bed and would not know anything was wrong until the next morning. She assumed I was staying out late with my ATV which I had been doing ever since I bought it. Of course, the next morning she knew something was terribly wrong when I was no where to be found around the house. She checked the garage for my ATV and noticed it was missing. She called work, friends and family to see if anyone had heard from me. When no one knew, she called the police to file a missing persons report. The bad news for me was that they had no idea where to start looking, I was on my own.
My father, a few of his buddies and the police started looking for me immediately. There are some woods near our town where people are known to ride ATVs, so they started there first. Unfortunately, that wasn’t where I was riding. They searched there for most of the day until the sun went down and then they had to call it quits. My mother and father stayed with my wife that night hoping for a miracle.
I knew my family would be worried about me but I had to concentrate on the matter at hand. I could tell there was something wrong with my back but I didn’t know the severity of my injuries. I found a thick piece of bark lying nearby, gathered a few sticks and took a piece of rope I had on the ATV. It was a difficult process but I managed to create a makeshift back brace.
Since I had cleared a trail with my ATV, I figured it would be easier to crawl back this way and I would not take a chance at getting lost. The land was flat for the most part, but there were a few small hills. Every once in a while I would hit a patch of thorns or poison ivy. The thorns were by far the worst obstacle I had to overcome aside from my injury. There was no way around them, so I just had to drag my body across them.
My goal was to make it all the way back to my house or at least to where someone would be able to find me. So I started my long excruciating journey back. I literally crawled inch by inch only covering about 25 yards at a time before my energy gave out. Sometimes I would stop for a few minutes, other times I would have to stop for a few hours. To my surprise, I never once thought about food or water. I just kept telling myself “Soon this will all be over” and that was my focus. I also remember being extremely tired and thinking that I had a concussion. I would not allow myself to sleep at all during this ordeal.
I live in an area that is known for coyotes but I tried not to let it bother me. In my condition, I would not have been able to defend myself so I put it out of my mind. One thing that I could not get off my mind were spiders. Considering that I have a small case of arachnophobia and I was constantly seeing spiders run across my path at eye level, it was very unnerving to say the least. Unless you have this condition it is hard to describe how terrifying this can be but it was something that my mind could not escape from. It is strange that even in a life and death situation conditions like arachnophobia can still have an effect on you.
30 Hours Later
It was just past midnight the following day when I finally made it back. It took me about 30 hours to crawl to my house after the crash. As soon as I arrived in the front yard my mom noticed me through the kitchen window and came rushing out. I was grateful that she had seen me because I was already trying to think of ways to signal my family inside the house. In my condition, standing up and ringing the doorbell was out of the question.
I stayed in the yard for about 20 minutes until the ambulance arrived. It was hands down the most unbearable, excruciating, worrisome event of my life. I now have 6 screws, 2 rods and a large scar down my back to remind me of my experience. Thank goodness I had temporary medical insurance at the time. The doctor bill for major spine surgery, an ambulance ride and a week in the hospital would have cost me well over $100,000! With the insurance it was down to about $1,000. The only reason I even had temporary insurance at the time was due to my wife constantly telling me how I might get hurt while riding the ATV. What a coincidence, I’m sure she felt pretty good about that decision.
There’s always a bright side to everything. The bright side to this story is how it opened my eyes to my sometimes radical behavior. I never should have left my house that day without telling someone where I was going and I should have been more prepared with a survival kit and my cell phone. There is hardly a day that goes by without thinking about how I could have done things differently that day on my ATV. Of course my biggest regret was flying towards that ramp at full speed without checking my landing zone. Taking extra precautions has now become habit, a lesson learned in blood. Hopefully I won’t ever find myself in such a miserable situation again. I also hope that someone else can learn from experience.
I survived because of a lot of luck, I kept my head and didn’t panic and my will to see to my family again.
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