Man severely injured in downtown Steamboat thanks community
After receiving help during a traumatic injury last May in downtown Steamboat Springs, which led to the amputation of his left leg above the knee, Andy Leedom visited the Yampa Valley this week to thank citizen responders.
“You live in a pretty amazing town,” Leedom said.
Leedom, 57, and his wife of 29 years, Deborah, want people to know they believe the level of bystander support Andy received on May 6, after a drug-impaired driver hit parked vehicles that smashed Andy’s lower legs, went far above anything they expected.
“If that happened in a big city, you would not have seen people jump in and help the way they did,” Deborah Leedom said.
The couple often visit family members in the Yampa Valley since Andy has a cousin living in Steamboat Springs and an aunt in Craig. They also own 40 acres of land in southern Wyoming, where they hoped to retire, but Andy’s unexpected injuries have upended that homesteading dream.
After six surgeries from May through late November, three surgeries on each leg, Andy is now driving a car and walking with the use of a cane and a prosthetic lower leg. A former professional landscaper and active hiker and biker, Leedom said his lower right leg suffered a compound fracture, has been “rebuilt” with two titanium plates and is about 70% of pre-accident condition.
Last spring, Andy accepted a job with Steamboat Springs based YESS Cleaning to earn wages not available at home in his small Michigan town. On his fourth day at work, Leedom was with company owner Matt Engle and Matt’s brother Zach Engle taking equipment out of their trucks before 3 p.m. Thursday on Lincoln Avenue near Ninth Street.
From the impact of the reckless driver’s vehicle, Leedom was violently squeezed between two parked vehicles.
Zach Engle, who was hurt on the arm and thrown to the ground, got up to grab an emergency kit and apply a tourniquet to Leedom’s nearly severed leg.
Local Physician Assistant Bridget Ross, who happened to be nearby, came to help. Local ICU Nurse Georgie Weber, who was driving home from the grocery store, saw the traffic congestion and people at the accident scene and pulled over to help.
A registered nurse at UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center for about two years, Weber said she and Ross began “immediately assessing the patient and the scene” and guiding the urgent care as a team to keep people as calm as possible.
“We were able to keep the patient calm and direct people in what they could and couldn’t do,” Weber said.
The nurse said she thinks about that afternoon often.
“In the ICU, we don’t see trauma like paramedics see trauma. I think my skill set sort of took hold, and we kept him stable until paramedics could arrive,” Weber said.
Her advice to community members at an accident scene is to stop to render aid after parking safely as not to add to or impair the accident scene. Citizens should confirm 911 has been called, establish who is available on scene to best direct care, and then provide help “that you feel confident you can give,” Weber said.
Weber encouraged local residents to sign up for a basic first aid, CPR or Stop the Bleed class, which currently are available online at RedCross.org.
UCHealth Yampa Valley Medical Center offers Stop the Bleed classes in Steamboat Springs. Classes are taught in a group format. Those interested in scheduling a class can contact Julie McFadden, trauma program manager, at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Preparing for these situations is best because we are an active community, and anything can happen,” Weber said. “Gaining those tools to prepare for things like this is always our best chance to help people in accidents have the best outcome.”
After receiving care in the Emergency Department at YVMC, Leedom was air lifted to Denver Health for amputation surgery and an eight-day stay, followed by a six-week stay in a rental apartment nearby.
The Leedoms were in Steamboat this week to exercise their rights to read victim impact statements in court Tuesday during the sentencing hearing for the driver. The Leedoms visited Ross and Weber in person to say thanks.
“It was wonderful to be able to say thank you. There was a lot of ‘bless yous,’ and ‘you were there when we needed you,’” Andy Leedom said.
Many community members were helpful after the accident as well, with 358 people donating a total $44,000 on the Go Fund Me page called “Help Andy Leedom’s Family.” The fund was started by YESS owner Engle and is still open for donations. The couple used donations to remodel a bathroom to accommodate Andy’s use of a wheelchair.
Leedom, an Army veteran and father to one daughter, said he could be negative after the accident, but, “That’s not who I am, and it doesn’t serve any purpose to be that way.”
“I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. It wasn’t my fault. I could be more pissed off about losing my leg, which I am on occasion, but I have a strong zest for life,” he said.
To reach Suzie Romig, call 970-871-4205 or email sromig@SteamboatPilot.com.
Support Local Journalism
Support Local Journalism
Readers around Steamboat and Routt County make the Steamboat Pilot & Today’s work possible. Your financial contribution supports our efforts to deliver quality, locally relevant journalism.
Now more than ever, your support is critical to help us keep our community informed about the evolving coronavirus pandemic and the impact it is having locally. Every contribution, however large or small, will make a difference.
Each donation will be used exclusively for the development and creation of increased news coverage.
A troubled Western Slope mental health care center that services the Roaring Fork Valley falsified assessments of its patients’ conditions for at least nine years in an effort to make its treatment programs seem more effective and secure funding from the state, whistleblowers say of Mind Springs.