FRENCHTOWN – You may remember back in the middle of December a terrible multiple-vehicle pile up, just outside of Superior, that left 2 men dead and 2 injured.
In the midst of the chaos in the early morning hours, a firefighter was severely injured and taken to the hospital with critical injuries.
Kyle Rauch is a 19-year-old resident volunteer for the Frenchtown Rural Fire District.
On the early morning of Dec. 19, Rauch, along with the rest of his coworkers were one of the first responders to arrive on the scene of a large pile-up crash on Interstate-90.
“We were taking it slow, I was probably only going 15 (mph). We happened to slide down the whole off-ramp and almost onto the other on-ramp on the highway. So, at that time we knew that the roads were very icy, and it was all black ice.”
Rauch began preparing just like any other scene they had responded to in the past, but what seemed like a normal call soon turned into a nightmare for Kyle.
“So, I had gotten out of the truck and put on my gear. We were walking and there was a big bunk of wood. I was walking right next to the jersey barrier and the bunk of wood, just kind of walking along. And next thing I know is my right leg slipped out, my left knee buckled, and as I was falling I tried to catch myself on the jersey barrier and I had fallen off the bridge.”
Rauch managed to curl into a ball in mid-air before free-falling 37 feet to the bottom of a ditch. At first Rauch was in shock, but soon realized how serious the injury was.
“Fell a good amount of distance, nothing hurts. Let’s get up and see if we can get up. So, I got up, tried to walk up the embankment but my leg buckled and I fell down further.”
From there multiple responders spent minutes getting down to Kyle before getting him in a stokes basket and pulling him over 40 feet back to the top of the road.
Rauch was sent to Saint Patrick Hospital in Missoula where he had surgery on his broken femur, and two weeks later, surgery on a newly-discovered broken wrist.
Kyle is only 1 month into an estimated 10-12 month road to recovery but his spirits are high
“Being able to walk is just..one of my worst fears was not being able to walk. As time progressed we eventually progress with going from a walker to crutches. It’s just, were getting there. We’re pushing through.”
As for the future? Rauch says is hasn’t deterred him from any of his dreams or ambitions and hopes to be back out there soon.
— Story by Jack Ginsburg – MTN News.