Call ’em crash-test buddies
Two boys, two sleds, two trees, two crashes, two broken legs.
It all happened Monday of course – the first day of spring break for a pair of Basalt Elementary second-graders.
“It’s amazing – both on the same leg, same time, same ambulance, different sleds and different trees. I’ve never seen a double whammy like this before, probably never will again,” said Dr. John Freeman of Orthopedic Associates of Aspen.
Best buddies Scott Matheney and Dylan Brown, both 8, had just eaten some pancakes Monday morning before they bundled up and ventured out with trusty “Big Foot” plastic sleds in tow into Scott’s back yard, which doubles as the youngsters’ private sledding hill near Ruedi Reservoir.
“It was our second run,” Scott said Wednesday. “I stopped where we were normally stop and I saw Dylan go flying by.”
“I came down the hill really fast,” Dylan concurred. “Scott stopped and I kept going and hit a tree and then Scott came down. He hit a tree, too.”
“I thought my leg broke off,” Scott added.
From the house, Scott’s mom, Amy, heard the boys wailing.
“And it didn’t sound like they were having fun,” she said. “I went down and looked ’em over, and I knew Dylan was hurt because his leg was swelling already. That’s when I ran back up the hill to call for help.”
“I made at least four or five frantic trips up and down the hill,” she continued. “I’m actually a nurse, and I was panicking.”
Meanwhile, Scott’s dad came down to check on the boys.
“My dad was all, `Get up and walk up the hill – try to,’ ” Scott said with a grin. “And I’m like, `I can’t.’ “
Basalt Fire Chief Steve Howard was one of several emergency personnel who responded to the scene, along with Vonda Williams and Hunter Lovins from Basalt Ambulance, two EMTs from Thomasville and three Basalt firefighters.
“Originally, it came in as a rescue call, we thought they were trapped in tree wells,” Howard said. “But it took everybody to get ’em out safely.”
The boys, who both broke their left femurs, were fitted with aircasts before being loaded into an ambulance together bound for Aspen Valley Hospital.
“With Dylan, [the injury] was obvious, but when we learned that Scott broke his, too, it caught us all by surprise,” Howard said. “They had to be flying – I guess red plastic sleds on hard-crust snow will do it.”
“When our fellow called me – he saw them first – I thought he was joking when he said we just got two kids in from the same ambulance with subtrochanteric femur fractures” (breaks just below the hip joint), said Dr. Freeman. “We maybe see a kid with a fracture like this once a year, so to see two virtually identical fractures was surprising.”
Monday night, Dr. Freeman performed virtually identical surgeries on the boys, fitting their bones with titanium pins, and yesterday, with full leg casts.
“I put generic fiberglass casts on ’em,” he said. Today, “we’re going to spice it up – glow in the dark is what they’re asking for.”
According to Freeman, their injuries would have meant lengthy hospitalization years ago. Thanks to advances in modern medicine, Scott and Dylan are expected to go home today – not that they’re eager too, judging from their new fondness for wheelchairs and the nest of wires under the TV sets in their adjacent rooms at AVH, jury-rigged to provide hours of video game fun.
“Ten years ago, these kids would have been in traction for four to six weeks, and then in a hip and leg cast for another six weeks,” Freeman said. “Now, they’re doing wheelchair races all over the hospital – ah, the glory of youth.”
Both boys are expected to make a full recovery, he added.
Dylan’s dad, Carrington, thanked all the medical personnel involved.
“We’re thankful and we feel lucky we have folks in Basalt and here at the hospital who care so much about our kids,” he said. “We couldn’t ask for any better response than we got.”
Most of the emergency personnel were thankful, too.
“I haven’t been on a call like that in 25 years,” Howard said. “The two amigos – if that doesn’t make ’em blood brothers, I don’t know what does.”
“I’m laughing, too, believe me,” said Freeman. “They must have been hauling ass pretty good when they hit the trees.”
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