Meet Mitch, beat the odds after near-fatal car accident

Mitch  family cropWorking as a nuclear power plant inspector kept Mitch away from his home in Arizona for months at a time. Mitch was part of an inspection crew that was working in the Midwest during the summer of 2005 when his life changed forever.

The supervisor gave the crew the evening of the 4th of July off to enjoy fireworks in nearby Moline, IL. After a spectacular show, Mitch agreed to meet a couple of the other technicians on the crew at their favorite diner just over the Mississippi River in Iowa. The huge crowd made it difficult to follow each other along the country back roads, so they agreed to meet at a certain time. Mitch was on his way when his cell phone rang.

He doesn’t remember the accident, but the police reports indicate that his Honda Civic was going about 60 M.P.H. when it hit an oncoming semi-trailer also travelling at the same speed. The crash was so loud that it woke up the local fire chief, who called the paramedics. When they arrived 30 minutes later, they were amazed that anyone survived the impact.

Mitch was transported to a hospital in Davenport, IA, with critical injuries. He suffered serious head trauma, his pelvis was broken in half, his left arm was broken in 50 places and both of his legs were damaged. Mitch needed 10 red cell and 8 plasma transfusions to stabilize his condition. Doctors feared that he wouldn’t survive the night and had him flown to the closest trauma center in Iowa City. His family was able to reach him at the hospital within 12 hours, only to hear that Mitch had a five percent chance of recovery.

With his family surrounding him, Mitch stayed in the ICU for three weeks in a coma before he was well enough to transfer to the Burn Unit. Three weeks later, he flew to home to Phoenix for a six-month stay at the Health South Scottsdale Rehabilitation Hospital. Mitch learned to think, walk and talk again and finally went home in February 2006, eight months after the accident.

By October, Mitch was well enough to go back to work in the Midwest on a limited basis. He made a surprise visit to the University of Iowa Hospital in February 2007 to thank the medical staff and surgeons. “I was so glad to have the chance to express my appreciation to the people who cared for me,” Mitch said, “but I know that the blood transfusions I received after the accident saved my life.”

He has required 15 follow-up surgeries, including a hip replacement, knee and ankle procedures and a bone graft in his skull. Mitch lives with his family in Peoria, AZ.