The Right Coast

June 15, 2004
A scary accident
By Tom Smith

Friday night the phone rang and I heard Jeanne exclaim "What?!" into the phone. You dread that sort of phone call, and it turned out it was bad news. Her nephew Thomas, whom I have known since he was practically a baby and who graduated from Brown last year, and whom we all love very much, had had a very serious bicycling accident in San Francisco. He was living in the Bay City working as a barrista, doing the just graduated from college thing. He had gotten seriously into cycling and was riding various places around the city. In the Presidio park, he was going no doubt too fast, collided with a guard rail, and tumbled over a 50 foot cliff. He broke his left femur and his C6 vertebrae, and was at the bottom of the cliff screaming for 20 minutes before somebody saw him and called 911. His cycling mate had been riding ahead of him and didn't know he had crashed. Paramedics had to rappel down the cliff, put him in a basket and haul him up. They put him on a medivac helicopter and took him to John Muir Hospital, a level 1 trauma center in the area.

Fortunately, the neck fracture was stable and the spinal cord wasn't compromised, so he won't be paralyzed. Thomas had to go into surgery for his femur to be repaired, but his neck is expected to heal with only a brace. He was in a lot of pain, and they put him on a morphine drip. His mom flew out from New York. It has been awful for Thomas, her, his dad and brother and sister, and all of us worrying about him. He seems to be improving now, and the doctors plan to move him out of the ICU tomorrow.

Prayers directed on behalf of Thomas will presumably reach the intended address. All help of that kind would be much appreciated. Those prayer effectiveness studies were done on ICU patients, I believe, so you needn't feel you're doing anything unscientific.

A neighbor of ours once said having a child was like taking out your heart and letting it run around outside your body. You worry about it, and with good reason.