DENVER (CBS4) – A Colorado man is back home and healing just a week after he and his daughter were impaled by a fallen tree. The incident happened on South Quitman Street in southwest Denver during last Saturday’s rare derecho windstorm.
On that day, 9-year-old Kaitlyn Newman was stitched up and sent home, but her father, Erich Newman, stayed at Denver Health for further treatment. Newman was released from the hospital Thursday evening.
“The last three days have been tear-filled, emotional, the hugs from all family,” Erich said.
After what he went through, Erich should have no business being home this soon. A week ago, he and his family were at his mother’s house helping with chores when a rare, powerful storm came through.
“The wind was making a hellacious, screeching sound coming up from behind us,” Erich said.
Moments later, the large spruce in the front yard fell down on top of the driveway, where both Newman and his daughter were standing.
“I grabbed her and I kind of tucked her in to try and protect her from any branch that would come down, and I would take the grunt of the storm,” he said. “At that point, I felt it hit the back of my head.”
Kaitlyn was impaled in the leg by a branch on the tree, but family members were able to get her to safety. She was eventually taken to the hospital, where she was given stitches and released.
Erich, on the other hand, was impaled and pinned underneath the tree. After 45 minutes of work, firefighters finally got him in an ambulance, with the branch still inside of him.
“I came in with a tree branch less than a half an inch from my spine and a milimeter from my kidney, and a doctor in an emergency room was able to remove that,” Newman said. “It’s a miracle that he even got that out.”
Erich has since undergone three surgeries and still has a long road to recovery ahead, which will include weekly visits from nurses and physical therapists. He also has a pump attached to the wound, to help prevent infections.
Until he’s fully recovered, he will likely be unable to work, so his family has set up a GoFundMe page to help with medical bills and unexpected costs.
While family calls him a hero for saving Kaitlyn, Erich is quick to pass that title off to the firefighters and health care workers who saved his life.
“They’re heroes. They save people’s lives. That doctor that pulled that stick out of me, that gentleman is a hero in my book,” he said.
Throughout the week, Erich and his family members have tried to stay positive and lean on their senses of humor. Erich, for example, has saved the branch that impaled him, and plans to display it in his home.