I am not an adventurous person. My courageous spirit resides in my writings and reading, definitely not personal experience. The people who know me understand this story is way out of character for me to be so daring.
It was January 1976. Wheeling had enjoyed a snowfall and Michael, my husband of three years, and his brother Kevin, decided we should go out with a toboggan that night to a local park with a particular hill famous for snow activity. Kevin would bring his girlfriend.
Now the boys had used a toboggan before. I was use to the red rider sled, and the hill I was accustomed to was about four feet in height. It was actually the small mound from the railroad track down to our back yard. Dad would never allow us on the track so we only ventured to the rise that held the track
Michael and Kevin worked all day to ready the toboggan. It was not defective; they were just busy greasing the sled to reach a maximum speed. If you’ve seen the movie A Christmas Vacation, where Clark greases the disk sled, then you know what the guys were trying to accomplish.
I need to return to the story.
We had dinner with Michael’s parents and then the four of us headed for the park. Michael would be in the front position, on the toboggan, then me, then Kevin’s girlfriend and at the back sat Kevin. Of course, since I was not use to this particular implement used for sledding, I was unaware that the front man locks into position with his legs crossed under the curl of the toboggan. Apparently, the guys thought ahead. It was going to be dark. So they brought along a flashlight to use as a headlight. Hmmm, bright idea. Don’t you think?
We were next in line for our downhill run when I, in the second position, buried my head into Michael’s back and prayed. I don’t mind telling you I was terrified. We pushed off and started downhill. Moments into the ride, I could feel Michael trying to throw me with his shoulder. Then Kevin was trying to pull me off from the back. Okay, they have definitely planned to terrify me.
The truth was more terrifying. Kevin and his girlfriend could see that we were in trouble and headed into the trees. I just kept holding on tight, and could not see what was ahead of us. Result; Kevin and his girlfriend rolled off the toboggan while Michael, locked in place, and I remained on the sled.
One moment we were flying on the snow, the next moment I woke to find Kevin, who was a paramedic, checking me for broken bones. He told me, as he set me up, I would see a lot of blood, but Michael was okay.
Kevin gently helped me sit up and I asked what happened. He explained that we hit a tree. All I saw was a bush. I asked if that is what we hit he said no and pointed downhill about 15 feet. “That is what you hit.” It was a large tree and we didn’t even disturb the snow on its branches. As I came to an upright position, I saw Michael. The skin on the right side of his face was scrapped away, and he was trying to inhale. He sounded horrible and I thought he was dying.
Stunned by the impact, I had no idea what happened, but it appeared our short married life was about to be over. It was terrifying to think I was part of his death. However, Kevin reassured me that he was going to be just fine.
He was right, and soon some others came to our aid. People helped him onto what was left of the toboggan, and transported him back up the hill. At the top of the hill, Michael was back to his regular self; joking, as people asked what they could get for him, he would tell them a beer. I think he was trying to keep me calm as we waited for the ambulance.
Kevin called his parents and told them what happened and that Michael was going to the hospital. As we arrived at the hospital, Mom and Dad O’Kane were waiting for us. Mom immediately grabbed Michael’s arm and said “Your face! Your face!” Michael retorted with “My arm! My arm”!
On his way to x-ray Michael complained of his toe. After x-rays, he asked if his arm was broken. The technician said she could not tell him about his arm, only a doctor could. However, his toe was fine! The attending physician gave Michael something for the pain and said to come back the next morning so his arm could be set and cast.
Now you understand why I am not the adventurous type. This story should cement the reason to any one asking.
Michael after the accident, oh yes, that is me in my skinny days.