Locals' quick actions help save man's life
- Holly M. Gill
- Madras Pioneer - News
Couple keep Albany man from bleeding to death
An Albany man may owe his life to the quick actions of a Madras couple, Ron and Jennifer Thompson, who were the first on the scene of an accident Dec. 16.
"Angels really do exist," said Mitzi Kenyon, the wife of Dick Kenyon, 73, who lost control of his vehicle in an icy fog on Highway 20 just after dark that evening.
"I feel that two angels appeared on the scene and saved his life," she said.
Kenyon, alone in his vehicle, was returning from a meeting at the Inn of the Seventh Mountain in Bend to his home in Albany, and kept running into areas of fog and wet, or icy road.
He had gone over the Santiam Pass, but was still in a remote area when he lost control as the tires of his Chevrolet Suburban caught on the shoulder of the road and he was unable to return to the roadway. The vehicle went off the road and rolled, landing back on its wheels.
"He crawled out the window and climbed up the bank," said his wife, from their home in Albany.
As he stood on the side of the road, holding his head to slow the bleeding, the Thompsons, who were returning to Madras from Corvallis, saw him and stopped.
"He was staggering around," Jennifer Thompson recalled. "He said he was looking for his cell phone. I think he was in shock; survival mode had taken over."
Kenyon, a retired anesthesiologist, was bleeding from a gash on his head that started above his right eyebrow and extended to the back of his head.
Head wounds often bleed profusely, but in Kenyon's case, the bleeding was exacerbated by the fact that he was taking a blood thinner.
"The blood was just pouring," said Ron Thompson. "I've never seen anything like that in my life."
"After we learned he was taking blood thinner, I tried to call 911 -- but there was no service -- and she started doing her thing -- taking his pulse, and holding his head together," Ron said.
From her training as a medical assistant for a Bend doctor, Jennifer knew that stopping the blood loss was critical.
She and Ron helped Kenyon into their Dodge crew cab pickup, where they covered him with a couple blankets. Jennifer took his vital signs and checked for mental alertness.
Since neither Kenyon nor the Thompsons had first-aid supplies, they were forced to make do with what was on hand. Using two folded white T-shirts from Kenyon's suitcase, Jennifer had Kenyon recline in the front seat and got in the seat behind him so she could use both hands to keep pressure on his head.
"They had a huge hand in saving his life," said a grateful Mitzi Kenyon. "He would have bled to death."
Meanwhile, Ron stayed busy -- flagging down motorists to find someone who could call 911 from that area, searching for Kenyon's cell phone, and gathering up Kenyon's belongings and packing them in his suitcase.
"The second person we flagged down had cell phone service," and was able to call for an ambulance, he said.
With flares from Kenyon's vehicle, Ron, and an off-duty state trooper who had stopped, marked the area to warn other motorists of the accident scene.
Ron also improvised his own test for mental alertness. "I asked Dick if he wanted a piece of pizza. He looked at me and laughed and said, `No thanks,'" Ron said.
Besides the motorists who attempted to call for assistance, the Thompsons were impressed with the consideration of another motorist.
"A lady passed by and gave us an afghan she had crocheted," to help keep Kenyon warm in the freezing weather, Jennifer said. The woman told them to keep the afghan, since she had plenty of them.
Throughout the ordeal, Kenyon asked repeatedly if anyone had contacted his wife. "He was more worried about me," said Mitzi, who was told of the accident by one of the passing motorists who called her on his cell phone.
As time passed, and Kenyon lost a lot of blood, he became weaker and failed to respond the third time Ron posed his pizza question.
"He'd lost so much blood, it appeared to me he was about to lose consciousness," Ron said. "There was swelling in his throat area from the blood draining down there."
Fortunately, 40 or 45 minutes after the Thompsons stopped, an ambulance arrived.
For most of that time, Jennifer had been applying steady pressure to Kenyon's wound. "My arms were shaking by the time the ambulance got there," she said.
"If the ambulance hadn't gotten there when they got there, we were ready to take him to the hospital in Lebanon," she added.
Kenyon was transported by ambulance to Lebanon Community Hospital, where Mitzi and their oldest son were able to find him, with help from the local sheriff's office.
"I feel so grateful," she said last week. "It's actually going to be a joyful Christmas."
Dick Kenyon spent that night in the Lebanon hospital, where his wound was treated. "He doesn't know what he hit his head on, but it required many, many stitches," Mitzi said.
Other than scrapes and bruises, the scalp wound was Kenyon's only injury, and Mitzi said last week that he had been up out of bed and walking around, but his face was a sight.
"His face looks like he's been in a fight, and the other guy won," she said.
After helping Dick Kenyon, the Thompsons continued on to Madras, where they hoped to catch the end of their 14-year-old daughter's band concert at Jefferson County Middle School.
They drove straight to the school, and Ron, who had blood only on his jeans, was able to watch as their daughter Katie, dressed as Mrs. Santa Claus, read "'Twas the Night Before Christmas," in a skit following the concert.
Jennifer, covered with blood, stayed out in their pickup, but was concerned that Katie would be upset that they had missed her concert. She needn't have worried. "She forgave us," Jennifer said.
At a time when a failed rescue attempt could result in a lawsuit, or contact with contaminated blood could result in a deadly disease, Jennifer shrugs off questions about why they stopped and got involved.
"My first instinct was just to help the guy," she said. "It was something anyone would do."
Mitzi Kenyon feels very fortunate that her husband of 47 years had the Thompsons' help. "They took very good care of him," she said.
The Kenyons sent a flower arrangement, featuring an angel, to the Thompsons just before Christmas. "How do you say thank you to someone who does such a wonderful thing?" Mitzi asked. "The Thompsons turned out to be guardian angels."