A number of years ago my wife broke a vertabre while we were hunting. She ended up riding a 4 wheel 16 miles with a broken back. She would not stay put while I went for help, we had no means of communication. I've always felt bad that she rode that far and I THANK GOD EVERYDAY that she wasn't hurt worse of paralyzed. I'll paste a thing she wrote for a Christain Womens magazine so you can hear it from her side.
In early September 1997 Greg and I were hunting Caribou off of Alaska's Denali Highway. On the evening of the third we spotted two young caribou laying on a bench about 2 miles past the end of the 4 wheeler trail we were using. We hadn't seen very many caribou so we decided to make a stalk and try to take them. After spooking them once we managed to get in place and took them at the same time. We gutted them and propped open the chest cavity and headed back to camp, we were camping at a parking spot on the Denali highway which was about 16 miles from where we shot the caribou. We planned to come get the caribou the next day as we didn't want to be out in the dark because of the many grizzly bears that roam the area. We were only a couple of miles from camp when we came around a corner and came close to a grizzly that was dragging away the remains of a moose kill. The grizzly didn't like our presence and made a charge at me but he stopped about 30 to 50 feet away and we moved on as fast as possible. We got a good nights sleep and headed back to the kill site about 9:00 am the next morning. When we got to the caribou one of the gut piles had been dragged off, so we quickly cut each caribou in two and loaded them on our 4 wheelers. Greg had bought me a new Suzuki King Quad 4 wheel drive that summer and I had not ridden it much before the trip. Putting the caribou on the racks made the machine top heavy and we had to make it up a mountain that has a series of benches that have 10 to 20 foot drop-offs that you have to work your way around. I was partially side hilling the machine when a front tire hit a small mogul and the machine started to roll to the left, I leaned into it but the machine continued to roll and it rolled over me and then caught my pant leg and slammed me on the ground as it rolled another half turn. I felt something snap in my lower back and the pain was incredible. Greg was by my side and he told me to stay still while he rolled the machine upright. He told me to stay down but i was determined to get up and try to evaluate my injuries. I had a lot of pain in my lower back and was beginning to feel tight through the stomach. Greg told me to stay put while he went for help but there was no way I was letting him leave me alone, covered in blood and dead caribou nearby, in an area with one of the most dense populations of grizzly bears in the state. Greg pointed out that if we wait till somebody missed us and sent a search party it would probably be days or weeks and we would both be dead of exposure by then. (it was getting down to 20 degrees F at night) Greg brought up the idea of dumping the caribou and giving me a ride back to the road but I didn't want to waste the caribou after taking their lives. We finally decided that since I could feel my fingers and toes Greg would help me on to a machine and we would drive out. I tried to focus on Greg's machine, the way you focus to control pain during childbirth, and prayed and sang praise songs to help me make it out of there. We managed to make it to the 4 wheeler trail without any further mishaps where Greg and I stopped to pray for me. The trail to the road follows a small creek bed for a ways and then you have to climb out of the creek bed to continue on. The climb out is about 4 or 5 feet high and very steep, the only way to make it is to hit it hard and ride it out. When we were getting to this point we ran into the only people we saw on the trail that day, A man and his boys helped me up to the trail while Greg got the machines across. They were an answer to prayer as I might have permanently injured myself if I had tried to get the machine over this. We made it back to the road about 5 hours after the accident where we informed the man that owned the parking area about my accident and he offered to take care of the caribou and watch our gear. They helped me into the backseat of our F350 crewcab and we headed towards Tangle Lakes Lodge which had the nearest phone, the lodge is about 35 miles away down a rough dirt road (The Denali Highway). My clothes had gotten wet on the trip out and I was getting cold and very uncomfortable in them, I wanted Greg to stop and help me change but he said lets wait till we get to the lodge and get some help and he turned on the heat. When we made it to the lodge Greg went in to call for help and a doctor had just stopped in to have dinner at the lodge, the doctor came out to the truck and examined me a bit and then went back to call for emergency rescue. He told Greg he suspected a broken pelvis or a lower back injury. He tried to get a helicopter to come get me but the weather was too bad to get one in so they started an ambulance from Glenallen which is 90 miles away. He told us to keep me strapped in the way I was and put a sleeping bag over me to help me keep warm, he didn't want us to change my clothes until I got to the hospital. We headed down the road and met the ambulance about half way to Glenallen, the EMT's put me in the ambulance on a backboard and took me to Glenallen where a fix-winged air ambulance was waiting to take me to a hospital in Anchorage...a 150 mile flight. The air was a bit bumpy that night so the crew put a neck brace on me and strapped my head to the board, this was very uncomfortable but necessary. They inserted an IV and gave me some morphine and I had a mild reaction to it, it made me cold and gave me tremors. When we got to Anchorage they put me in another ambulance and took me to Providence hospital. By the time Greg got to Anchorage (about 4 hours later) they had xrayed most of my body and found that I had broken my L2 vertebrae in 3 places and had crushed the front of it. They did a cat scan and found that nothing had gone into the spinal cord and the bone had remained in place. The doctors were amazed that I had not severed my spinal cord, especially when they found out I had ridden a 4 wheeler 16 miles after I broke the vertebrae. I believe that God was watching over me, especially when you consider that the only people we met on the trail were exactly where we needed them, there was a doctor at the nearest lodge with a phone, I didn't hurt my spinal cord and I didn't even need surgery. The doctors made a plastic brace that I could take off and on, it is held together by 3 large velcro straps. I had to wear the brace for 3 months, as of this writing (January 98) I am completely out of the brace and going to physical therapy, I get sore but I am on the road to full recovery...Praise God.