Wisconsin Rapids, WI – 39-year-old Brian Ortner was paralyzed when he was struck by a storm-damaged tree.
Ortner worked for Solarus, a Wisconsin Rapids-based phone, internet, and cable television company. He was one of many who were restoring service after a July 20th. storm.
The winds broke off the top of the tree. It was “sticking up in the air,” Brian said, “and it looked almost like a tripod.” It leaned slightly to one side. He pushed on it, and he figured with some trimming of the twisted limbs around it, the tree, maybe 2 feet around, would fall that way.
“I was cutting on it,” Brian said, “and I heard a big snap. I thought, ‘OK, it’s going.'” He ran away from the tree; he had planned his escape route. But the tree didn’t fall the way he figured it would. It fell his way.
“It hit me square in the back,” Brian said. The blow shattered his spine, and paralyzed him from his chest down.