Sonny (Joel) Flock of Indiana loves skiing the double-black diamonds of Arapahoe Basin's back bowl. He and a friend were just a few runs into the day March 12, 2010, when he cut hard to miss a snow-covered rock, caught the edge of a ski and was catapulted into the air. "My friend said it was just like a mousetrap going off," Sonny recaps. "It took him a few minutes to get his skis off and back up the hill, and by then an EMT-trained firefighter was there. I was unconscious.
Then the ski patrol and Flight For Life Colorado arrived, and they intubated me so I could breathe. Then they airlifted me off the mountain and to St. Anthony Central."
What Flock had no way of knowing was that the bright orange helicopter was transporting him to St. Anthony's T-10-the only dedicated field-to-surgery facility of it's kind in the region. But he would need the best given the injuries he had sustained: a ruptured spleen, a punctured lung, the fracture and dislocation of his right hip, multiple cervical and thoracic spine fractures, as well as extensive facial fractures.
The facial reconstruction surgery, alone, required 10 hours in surgery. "I've got 47 screws and 14 plates in my head," Flock recounts. "Dr. Mouchantat did an amazing job."
The fact that he did not suffer serious brain trauma is not lost: "I had been skiing 200, maybe 300 times, and I had never worn a helmet before. But that day, I did."
After 10 days in the St. Anthony Central ICU and another week healing, Flock was able to return home. "They thought I'd be there a lot longer," he says, "but I healed supernaturally fast." Within seven weeks, he was back at work as a computer programmer. A week later, he was in the gym and on a stationary bike. On Memorial Day, he ran a 5K.
"So, yes, I'm a big fan of the medical team at St. Anthony Central," he laughs. "I may be their number one fan, in fact.
"You know, my parents flew out, and my pastor. My parents said that, every morning, the ICU team would be there together, go over my case and get a game plan for that day. My pastor-who has been in all kinds of hospitals around the country-says he's never seen a hospital like St. Anthony's. He says it's a whole other level of excellence.
"I truly believe God is a healer," Flock continues, "and I give Him the glory for my fast recovery...but I definitely give a lot of the credit to the people of St. Anthony."
So, will Flock be back at A-Basin in the future. "I really wanted to be there this past season," he says. "But things were busy. I got married about four months ago. "But yeah, I want to get back out there and conquer that mountain."
|Sonny with A-Basin Ski Patrol who came to his aid and helped him into the Flight For Life helicopter.|
Written by Carla Carwile