Dr. Jim Childs (pictured), a longtime elder and leader in the Grace Brethren Church of West Kittanning, Pennsylvania (Mark Cornwell, pastor) on Wednesday suffered critical injuries after a 250-foot fall in a freak accident. Here is an excerpt from the news article, along with links to the full article and a TV report:
EAST FRANKLIN — An ACMH Hospital doctor was rescued after slipping and falling down a 250-foot cliff behind the Morris Tire Co., located along Route 268 near Butler Road, and high above train tracks and Tarrtown Road along the Allegheny River.
Dr. James E. Childs, 58, of East Franklin Township, suffered head and shoulder injuries in the fall that occurred just after noon on Wednesday, according to East Franklin Township fire Chief Mark Feeney.
Childs is the medical director of pathology services at the hospital.
Feeney was the first emergency responder to reach Childs, arriving several minutes after the call came to Armstrong 911.
“He had a bump on his head and was complaining of pain in his left shoulder,” said Feeney, who repelled down the steep, rocky, wooded terrain to the injured man who lay motionless in a creek bed below. “I didn’t see any broken bones protruding. He was talking the whole time.”
Feeney said Childs must have dropped about 50 feet before hitting the ground, and then rolled another 200 feet. The area at the top of the hill where he fell was not fenced.
Rescue teams from East Franklin and West Kittanning, and Kittanning Hose Co. 6 Ambulance crews arrived above at Morris Tire and below the scene, just north of Lock and Dam 7 along the river opposite Kittanning Borough.
It took Feeney several minutes to reach Childs and rescuers about 25 minutes to remove him from the foot of the hillside. Within an hour, Childs was being transported to the hospital by helicopter.
“An ambulance crew walked up from below to get to him,” Feeney said. “The hill was unstable from the rain. It was more dangerous to go up.”
According to an e-mail report from Childs’ family and from the Kittanning church, in the first surgery after the accident, surgeons went in through the front of his throat to remove a crushed disc that was pressing on the spine. They then stabilized C5 and C6 vertebrae with bone grafts, plates and screws.
In a second surgery, doctors went in from the back and stabilized C3 – C7 with rods and screws. T1 is also fractured but they try to never cross the cervical and thoracic while doing spinal repair. They will hope that T1 will heal on its own without incident.
There is massive bruising and swelling of the spinal cord. There is no guarantee that he will get the function in his legs back. PLEASE PRAY THAT THE SWELLING WILL SUBSIDE AND FUNCTION WILL BEGIN TO RETURN. The swelling goes from C4 down to C6 or C7. It is very, very swollen.
As it stands, he has gross motor movement in both arms. Much, much better in the right arm than the left. He does struggle with the left movements. From about his diaphragm (located in the low chest) down he has no feeling and no movement. His left shoulder, the humeral greater tuberosity is broken off, this is the top of the large bone in the upper arm. This will most likely require surgery down the road, however, will not be addressed at this time.
The report today (Saturday) was that Jim came through his latest surgery. They fused his upper neck, where C 3-7 were fractured. They will sit him up today and take him off the ventilator . Tuesday will be surgery on his shoulder. Then in about a week-to ten days they will move him to Harmarville for months of rehab.
The Childs family and the Kittanning church will appreciate your prayers for Dr. Childs, his family, and the community as it is impacted by this incident.