Responding to bizarre accident

Published 2:45 pm Wednesday, February 10, 2010

“I thought I would die — I knew I was injured so badly — but I was at peace with that because I knew I was in God’s hands. Of course, I was thinking of my family, but I was calm. I knew that the right people were there caring for me.”

Those were the words said by Sammy Nix as he described a recent life-threatening accident.

Nix, Bobby Sherrer and Ed Czeskleba were cutting a tree for fire wood. Nix was working about 20–25 feet up in the tree. He was making a back cut when the tree — more frozen than he realized — split, catching and jerking his harness, severely squeezing his body.

His friends called 911 immediately and the Montevallo volunteer rescue team showed up within minutes. They quickly realized that they could not get their ladder truck close enough to get Sammy down, so they began setting up ground ladders expecting to take him down in a Stokes safety basket lowered between two of the ladders. This would have been very difficult.

By lucky coincidence — Nix called it a blessing — firefighter Alan Blackmon had seen an Alabama Power bucket truck on his way to the Nix accident. He radioed them and they brought their truck in to help.

In the meantime four of the medics — Mike Reid, Ryan Blackmon, Ken Smith and Chris Fulmer — had been up in the tree with Nix, assessing his injuries and administering first aid. They were successful in lowering Nix in the basket to the ground attached by a wench from the bucket. The whole process took more than an hour.

Once down, the life saver ambulance was there and Nix was transported by helicopter to the hospital.

Nix is recovering at home after three surgeries for severe internal injuries, but he has an indomitable spirit and can’t wait to get outdoors again.

In talking about the rescue service, he said, “It was another blessing having people you knew were so capable, and who were also friends, caring for you. Chief Bill Reid was on the ground issuing orders to the medics in the tree and the others in his crew. Their whole operation worked like a well-oiled machine.”

“This was a situation we don’t have to deal with normally,” said Mike Reid. “We’ve never had a call like that before, but then; that’s what we’re here for.”

Catherine Legg can be reached at