Pinned Mont. Man Owes Life to Teens, Neighbors

Aug. 20--A Hungry Horse man who got pinned beneath his pickup truck last week owes his life to three young boys, his neighbors and a Flathead County 911 dispatcher who calmly directed the group effort to save the man's life.

Mark White said the man was working on a Ford F-150 pickup truck on Tuesday afternoon, Aug. 12, when it broke loose and pinned him in the wheel well between the frame and the body.

Fortunately, White's son Tanner and two other boys, Jonathan Hamilton and Brad Crosswhite, all between 13 and 14 years old, happened to pass by the truck on First Avenue North in Hungry Horse and heard a voice coming from beneath the truck saying, "Jack. House."

At first, White said, the boys tried to lift the truck off the man. Then one of them ran to get a floor jack from White's house. But lifting the truck by the frame would only make the situation worse.

Fortunately -- and a lot of this story depends on fortune -- White's wife was home and had called Mark, who was in Coram at the time and hurried back. White had worked a little with an ambulance crew when he was 18 and learned some first aid in the Army.

Meanwhile, one of the boys had called 911. Unfortunately, emergency personnel were tied up with a number of incidents across the Canyon, from a motorcycle wreck to a heart attack to a semi-truck versus a pickup near Marias Pass. No professional help was to come for a while.

As soon as he arrived, White scrambled to get a farmers jack in place and lifted the truck body off his neighbor. They pulled him out and lay him on the ground.

"It blows me away," White recalled. "He was dead, black purple, no pulse, eyes dilated."

With Crosswhite on the phone relaying directions from the 911 dispatcher, White went to work performing CPR on the seemingly lifeless body.

"One of the boys said he'd only been unconscious for a short time, so I thought he had a chance," White recalled.

The procedure for cardiopulmonary resuscitation had changed since he last learned it, White said, so the assistance from the dispatcher was priceless. After about 20 minutes, there was foam in the man's mouth and he started breathing.

The man was flown to Kalispell Regional Medical Center. Several days later, White spoke with him on the phone.

"He said he lost a few years of memory," White said.

White wanted to credit the three boys who just happened to pass by on their bikes.

"The boys amazed me with their level heads," White said. "Three little boys trying to lift a big truck, then trying to help with a floor jack."

He also wanted to give credit to the dispatcher.

"She remained calm and kept telling us not to give up, to keep trying," White said.

Flathead County 911 director Elizabeth Brooks said she listened in on the call and praised the efforts.

"They should all be commended, and their community should be very proud of the part they played in this situation," she said.

As for the dispatcher, who couldn't be reached for this story.

"Dispatchers are trained in many different scenarios, but oftentimes the emergencies that come in are quite unique, and they have to use their judgment combined with their training to help those in need," Brooks said. "This was one of those cases. We in Flathead County are very fortunate to have the professionals that we do behind the phones and radios when emergencies occur."

Copyright 2014 - Hungry Horse News, Columbia Falls, Mont.