SPRING CITY—After just four months, a rancher who lost his right arm has made remarkable progress after a horrific farming accident.
Mike Black, a Spring City municipal government deputy treasurer, retired sheep farmer and teacher, is able to walk, drive and return to work.
“He’s a farmer who was raised by farmers,” said his daughter Brittany Hooser, also a Spring City resident. Despite his incredible progress, “it’s not going as fast as he would like,” she said, “…physiotherapy is a long process.”
Recently, Black drove his sheep to their summer pasture.
“We wouldn’t let him ride a horse,” laughed Hooser, so he rode a side-by-side ATV instead. “But he directed it all.”
The accident happened on March 8, crushing three of Black’s vertebrae, shattering 11 of his ribs and shattering his femur, or upper leg bone, just below his hip. Without explanation however, his spine and head were not damaged.
Despite multiple efforts to be cleared for takeoff, an Intermountain Life Flight helicopter was unable to transport him due to a brewing snowstorm.
Because his property is located in a canyon, Sanpete Search and Rescue was called to get him into an ambulance. From Sanpete Valley Hospital in Mt. Pleasant, an ambulance took him to Central Valley Medical in Nephi, and from there he was airlifted to Intermountain Medical Center in Murray.
“He was Utah’s most critical patient for two and a half weeks,” his wife Susan Black said.
His injuries required several surgeries, including the amputation of his right arm, the fusion of seven of his vertebrae, and the stabilization of his femur and hip with a rod and two pins.
Family members say it’s amazing he’s alive. Doctors estimated his initial recovery would take six weeks, so neighbors and friends are thrilled to see him out so soon.
Black remained in Murray Hospital for two months. For the first few weeks, his doctors kept him sedated, as they had to keep his back completely still while his bones healed.
“He was released on Mother’s Day,” Hooser said. “But even now we can’t let him laugh.” Laughs cause too much pain, she explained.
Hooser would like to thank everyone who has helped Black and his family over the past five months. “We are super grateful.”
Residents of Spring City, County and all of Utah have graciously offered to help in any way they can. People helped with farm work and housework.
“Small town farmers know other small town farmers, and people learned mostly by word of mouth. But not just farmers, people all over town,” Hooser explained.
Fundraisers have taken place and continue to take place every few weeks to help cover medical costs. Although Black had medical insurance, it did not cover all of the unique treatments that were needed for his serious injuries.
In his role as Spring City’s assistant treasurer, Black oversees cemetery maintenance, pet licensing, city building reservations and rentals, grants and projects, and also serves as a notary public. He was also a board member of the Horseshoe Irrigation Company for over 20 years.
Black has three daughters and five grandchildren who all live in Sanpete County.
On May 21, Spring City supporters held a Dutch food and bake sale for him. On May 28, over Memorial Day weekend, a Miles4Mike 5K race was held, complete with a booth selling baked goods and crafts.
On June 6, Spring City Elementary School held a pancake breakfast fundraiser.
Hooser explained that shortly after the accident, all of the students at the school signed a poster for him that he kept on his room wall in the hospital while he recovered. A website was also created for his former students to share memories of him as a teacher.
“That’s why we want to express our gratitude,” Hooser said. Raffles continue at Lazy-D Pawn in Centerfield and Big Pine Sports in Fairview for multiple guns.
The July 24 celebration in Spring City will include a fundraiser for the cornhole tournament on Saturday, July 23. A registration form to participate in the tournament is available at http://www.springcityutah. org/pioneer day.