- Last Updated on 07:43 AM 09/01/10
- BY Katherine Lee Francis
It’s been almost three months since Junior Fallen suffered serious injuries in a tractor accident that resulted in life-altering changes for the 54-year-old Halifax man.
Today he is thankful to be alive despite the loss of his left leg and grateful for family and friends who have stood by his side throughout this sudden and traumatic turn of events in his life.
Monday, June 7 started out like any typical day for Fallen, but by day’s end his life as he knew it would be changed forever.
Around 7 p.m. Fallen was out on his tractor working when he says he got too close to a ditch. Afraid that his tractor was going to turn over, he jumped off.
As he walked up to the tractor in an effort to turn it off, it nose-dived into the ditch and began spinning catching his foot and pulling him under the bushhog.
“There was no stopping at that point,” Fallen said.
The injured man lay on the side of the road going in and out of consciousness before good Samaritan Jonathan Brown passed by rendering aid and summoning rescue personnel.
“He was just as terrified as I was,” Fallen said. “Thank God I was on the side of the highway when it happened because if I had been anywhere else on the place, I’d still be there because no one was at home when it happened.”
Soon, Fallen was airlifted from his farm on Newbill School Road to Duke Medical Center after many neighbors pitched in to move hay rolls in order make room for the helicopter to land in the field.
Three days later, Fallen’s leg was amputated during two major surgeries.
Following a 12-day stint in the hospital, Fallen said he was sent home to begin his recovery and the healing process.
Upon arrival at home, Fallen was overwhelmed by the generosity of friends – namely his poker-playing buddies who had built a ramp onto his house.
They also built a sidewalk from his house to his shop, as well as an additional ramp, he said.
“That was a blessing in itself,” said Fallen.
And constantly by his side during this challenging time has been his wife, Tammy, and son Gus as well as other dedicated and selfless family members
Also, Fallen is quick to acknowledge efforts by his brother-in-law who brought him a golf cart so that he could continue to “get around” on his property.
Fallen was fitted for his prosthetic leg on July 24 and a week later on July 31 he picked it up, ready to learn how to walk again.
Fallen recalled the process of beginning physical therapy in an effort to go from a wheelchair bound man to walking unassisted.
It has taken about a month, he added.
At this point, Fallen feels he has gone as far as he can with therapy until his right foot, which also was injured, completes the healing process.
This summer, Fallen said he has been experiencing several firsts all over again, including learning how to shower in his modified bathroom, as well as being able to sleep in his own bed and not a hospital bed.
“I’m getting my independence back,” Fallen added. “When I started physical therapy, the lady asked me what my goals were, and I told her that I wanted to be able to walk Gus to his class the first day of school, and I did.”
Monday, Aug. 9, also marked a momentous day for Fallen when he climbed into his pickup truck and drove again for the first time since the accident.
“I haven’t fallen but twice since I got in this process,” he said. “It scared Gus, and I could see that he was terrified, so the only thing I could think to do was to start laughing, so we started laughing.”
This past week, Fallen said he went back to work, commenting “That was a challenge.”
Fallen credits much of his recovery to the vast network of friends and family members who came out to help him on his road to recovery.
“It has just been overwhelming,” said Fallen.
Many people have come by with food donations; others came to see how he was progressing, and even more called or sent cards out of concern for him and his family.
Fallen also knows he owes a great debt of gratitude to the man who found him lying on the side of the road that fateful evening.
He hasn’t seen Jonathan Brown since the accident, but Fallen said, “I would really like to see him to thank him.”
Looking back over the events of the past summer, the Halifax man said, “It has changed me forever.”
Fallen said he does not remember much about the actual events as they unfolded that fateful evening because he blacked out. However, Triangle Volunteer Fire Department First Responder Grady Francisco, one of the first responders to arrive on the scene, has helped Fallen fill in the blanks by describing what he saw when he first arrived on the scene.
“I am looking forward to the point where I can get up in the morning and put on a pair of work pants, and this isn’t the topic of conversation,” Fallen said noting he is eager to get on with his life.
“I am looking forward to getting back on my motorcycle. I have fooled around with it enough to know that I am not ready yet. I am going to wait until I get my right foot healed up and modify the shifter. It’s coming, and I am really looking forward to that. That is my goal right now,” he added.
“I know that I will never be 100 percent again”, he said adding quickly, “I’m looking pretty good for the shape that I’m in.”
A 50/50 poker run benefit will be held for Junior Fallen on Saturday, Sept. 11, at American Legion Post 8, located on Jeffress Blvd, South Boston.
Registration will begin at 10 a.m., and the ride will start at 11 a.m.
A 50/50 drawing for door prizes will be held in addition to the ride.
Barbecue plates prepared by Maynard Childress with all the fixings will be available beginning at 11 a.m.
All proceeds will go to help Fallen with his medical expenses and continuing rehabilitation following his accident.
For more information on the benefit, contact Pete Talley at (434) 470-4017.