Down, But Only Temporarily Out

Sunday, October 20th started out like any other Sunday; off to church where I taught a Sunday School Class, then off to Culver’s with the same group of Living Stones (that is code for the oldest group in our church). The meal and the conversation was great…I took a meal to go to my 86 year old mom, dropped it off and made sure she was good…then excitedly I headed home. The weather was one of those perfect early fall days, temps in mid 60’s, plenty of sunshine and leaves cascading down. Here is where the normalcy took a 90 degree turn…

I walked to my lower garage, jumped in my Gator…made sure I had all the necessities; chainsaws, fuel, lube oil, etc…as the day before I had dropped a large and very dead Dutch-Elm from the corner of my property. This tree had bothered me for a couple of years…it was dead on the hoof and on the northwest corner…adjacent to a family with a few kids. The last thing I wanted to happen was for this old relic to come down in a storm and hurt someone.

As I said…I had dropped the tree right where I wanted it late the night before and had topped it out. I was coming back to clean up the 40 or so…foot of the main beam, at its base it was about 25 inches in diameter…it would have been a nice tree about 30-40 years ago! I started making cuts every 16-18 inches along the tree from the periphery inward toward the base…not knowing that I was creating torque along this line and with each cut I was making a huge spring. I wasn’t cutting all the way through the wood as I didn’t want to get my chain down in the dirt…thus I was stopping about an inch or so above the ground. My plan was to cut all the way through about a third of the way towards the base.

Here is where it unfortunately went wrong; there was one small elbow in the tree and as I said I was unknowingly creating a torque along the length of the tree. As I neared this elbow I saw a movement to my left and before I could even blink the tree released its energy and lurched at me, knocking me backward at the speed of light. I sat up and was stunned to see that I had just been stunned…and wasn’t sure what had hit me. It was then that I looked down and saw that my right leg was pinned under the beam of the tree. My first thought was to use my freed left leg to push off the tree…but I simply couldn’t budge it…not even a wiggle. I didn’t know at the time but I was under the weight of the entire section (about 40 foot) of the tree.

Luckily my chainsaw landed on the same side of the log…and I quickly fired it up and used my right hand to finish the cut just to the right of my leg…and then transferred the saw to my left hand and finished the cut just to the left of my leg. With a couple of big pushes with my left leg…my free leg…I pushed the two pieces of wood off of my leg and I was no longer pinned by the log.

Here is where things get foggy…I do recall getting to my knees and feeling my right leg move in the wrong direction and figured it was broken. I don’t however recall at all how I got to my Gator and then drove across the property to home. I did call my wife, who was still at church, and she in turn called our oldest son, Harrison, who came flying over to help his dad.
Jeff X-ray Right LegI will keep the rest of the story short; they set my leg in the ER and sent me home. I visited with an awesome surgeon, Otto Wickstram, the next day…and he in turn put the pieces back together the following Thursday…and now as I sit here on my front porch, thinking of muskies and pheasants…I look to the future and the next few weeks of recovery. I am totally optimistic and know that all will go well…mostly because I know how much the outdoors means to me! I will be missing lots of fall fishing and for the first time since 1983…won’t be heading west to pheasant hunt. So it goes…knowing now (after visiting the accident site) that the log lurched about 4-5 feet…well, it could’ve been much worse. Was God watching over me? I’d like to think so…I’d like to think I have more to contribute to the totality of my life. Either way, I am thankful that we have modern medicine and in a short few weeks…I will once again be up and moving about…searching for smallmouth bass, mushrooms, turkeys and in general…just enjoying my small space upon this earth…God is Good!


    • Kevin Kidwell
    • October 30, 2019

    Jeff, i have learned so much from your articles and really love the way you put them together. You are truly an inspiration. Thanks for all you do and may you have a speedy recovery…and yes GOD is very very good!!!

  1. Reply

    I so appreciate your kind comments. I will be honest…this is and probably will continue to be a bit of an embarrassment, knowing that I have been working in wood since I could walk. I don’t have much of a memory for a few minutes from the accident, thus replaying it in my mind just doesn’t help much…but after going back to the site I now know that probably I will have to leave it as ‘one of those things’ that I will have to accept and move on from. I also know that saying ‘God-things’ makes people weird or nervous…but for sure the accident could have been worse. Anyway…thanks for the kind comment and I hope to be back up and running…well, as soon as possible!

    • John Morgan
    • October 30, 2019

    Glad to here you are OK, hope u can get out on the water soon.


    John Morgan

    • Jeff I Carmichael
    • October 31, 2019

    It was a very odd occasion that i don’t think I could recreate…and for sure don’t ever want to! My hope is to be back up and moving about by December and really going well in time for some spring fly fishing action. Have thought of you often lately….hoping the Gem State is all you wished it would be….

    • Nate
    • November 7, 2019

    Hope you get better soon Jeff! I fell down the stairs a few months ago; Not nearly as tough as a broken leg. My heart is with you. The fish will be there upon your return.

    Best regards,

    • Jeff Carmichael
    • November 7, 2019

    Thanks for checking in on me…I’m not a good patient, kind of ready to be out enjoying the fall…but the good news is I’ll make a full recovery and will be step setting smallies before you know it!

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