By Charlotte Nelson
Sunday evening, Dec. 4, after a lovely evening of fellowship and dinner with dear friends, hosted by Helm and Karen Theimer in Pine Forest, Robert and I found ourselves riding our brakes down Summer Road and lamenting the sad truth that we should have gone around the loop, when we found ourselves in a slide that turned into a wild ride and catapulted us off the road and into about a 30-foot ravine.
Seatbelts saved our lives! Only Robert’s side door airbag deployed, cushioning him which, with the seatbelt, only resulted in a sprained wrist. He crawled out of the car, scrambled up the embankment and walked back up to the Theimers’ to get help. I was suspended by the seatbelt, no airbag deployment, and knowing without a doubt that I needed help.
Soon I was engulfed in total silence and even with the excruciating pain, I knew that I was becoming really, really cold. Just then the driver’s side door opened and a neighbor, Heather Dean and her husband, appeared with a light and a blanket. Their dogs had alerted them of a disturbance and they discovered a white car that should not have been where it was with the lights still on! One of them stayed with me and the other went to call for help.
The next minute, Robert and Helm appeared with more blankets and a lantern. I was “zoning” with the warmth and all the activity. I was “brought back” to reality with this wonderful handsome man holding me and saying, “I know you, I know you,” so I opened my eyes to see John Owen and a brigade of also-handsome, capable firefighters. This was the moment that knew I was going to be all right! They quickly unhooked the batteries to prevent my airbags from deploying and extracted me from the car.
Thank you to my heroes: Division Chief Brian McAuliffe, Jesse Fuller, Charles Hammer, Nic Schulz, Kevin Stanforth, Linda Stanforth, Derek Poindexter, John Owen, Mark Crum, Dick Evans, Bruce Hevly and Rick Nordby. Then the arrival of Aero Methow Rescue Service! Autumn (who is a true angel), Brad and Eors and the firefighters snapped a carry gurney together and had me up the ravine and into the aid car on our way to Three Rivers Hospital in record time.
I am still in awe about their quick response and their skill. At 10 p.m. on a Sunday night, to leave the comfort of their homes, arrive in full gear and get to this remote ravine in Pine Forest, in lightning speed, is, to me, a miracle.
With the care of an excellent emergency room, Dr. Huffman and two really good ER nurses, Chris and Linda, and a great X-ray technician, the injuries were determined and immediate action and constant detailed attention was given, and I was already on my way to recovery. The injuries sustained, though painful, were minimal in comparison to what might have happened.
Dr. Ann Diamond called while I was in the hospital and along with Dr. J. Wallace’s attention, I felt totally cared for and monitored. I came home to the valley and the most generous group of friends anyone could ever have, showering me with tons of calls and visits, mountains of food, flowers and notes of concern and love! This valley and the people who live here have given me cause for an overwhelming sense of gratitude. I am so lucky! Robert and I are humbled and so, so grateful.
Charlotte and Robert Nelson live near Winthrop.