On February 12th, 2006, I went tarping with a few friends during a blizzard. It was extra windy downtown, so we were down by the river. Below is a video clip of some semi-successful tarping done earlier that day.
Several minutes after I shot the above video clip, I was tarping with a guy named Ian. Without any warning, an incredible gust swept the tarp upward, instead of the usual sideways. Before I even knew what had happened, I flew across an intersection at the same height as the traffic lights (approx. 20 feet.) I heard my friends holler.
I can remember everything except for the landing. Based on what my friends say, I landed on my feet and crumbled forward to my right side. Seconds after the impact, I rolled myself over and started to moan. My knee throbbed like nothing I'd ever experienced. I could also feel that my forearm was broken near the elbow.
The green dot is where I was standing when I shot the video above.
The red arrow shows my flight path.
Miraculously, an ambulance just happened to be driving down the street at that moment. It was transporting a person with a less severe injury, so they pulled over and started to treat me. They had to cut up my jacket to get it off. I loved that jacket.
After the x-rays were taken, I was told I had shattered my knee cap, broke my elbow, cracked my eye socket in 3 places, and broke a sinus cavity. Besides the cracked eye socket, I needed surgery for the other injuries. One pin was placed in my arm, and three pins were put into my knee cap.
Air from my sinus cavity escaped behind my eye, which caused it to bulge out. I saw double-vision, because my eye was out of alignment. To remove the air, a needle was inserted into my eyelid (while i was awake.) That was probably the scariest part of the whole experience, because they seemed a little nervous too.
I was in the hospital for five days, but I didn't have to miss any school because it was over a break. RISD (my school) was very gracious and let me move into my friend's dorm/apartment that was equipped with an elevator. I hobbled around with a cane for several weeks.
I had a hard time seeing myself in the mirror, because blood vessels in both my eyes had broken. It's very disorientating to look yourself in the eye and not see all the white around your cornea.
Almost a year after the accident, I had the pin in my elbow taken out. It's a big pin.
I haven't tarped since the accident, but I plan to do it again someday. Some people think that's stupid, but tarping during a blizzard, in the street, during 65mph winds was stupid. I'm not going to do that again. Before the accident, I had tarped for over 6 years without any injuries, because I usually do it on grass during 30-40 mph winds.
These days, I am alive and well, living with my wife Jessica in Providence, RI.Here I am with a large beard:
Bert was always there to comfort me