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Teenager impaled by tractor lance meets firefighters who saved his life


SHELBY COUNTY, Tennessee (WREG) – A recent meeting at a Tennessee fire station was an opportunity for 18-year-old Sam Reid and his parents to thank the first responders who saved Sam’s life.

To understand why the reunion was so spectacular, you have to go back to February 2021. It was a week of record snowfall in the Memphis area.

Sam and his friends weren’t at school and decided to go sledding behind an ATV in a field.

“My mate, he preceded me. He said, ‘Dude, this is a lot of fun, you should try it.’ I said okay, so I jumped on it, ”Sam said.

But something has gone terribly wrong.

“I looked and saw the tractor,” Sam said, referring to a tractor that was sitting in the snowy field. “I said, it’s awfully close. No, something is wrong.

The sled, with Sam on it, headed straight for the tractor, to which were attached two long steel spears, the kind used to collect hay bales.

Sam’s body hit the tractor and one of the spears.

“I felt it on the back of my head because it was touching my skull under the skin. I knew I was stuck, ”he said. “It was just very uncomfortable. Kind of like a burning sensation.

  • Teenager impaled by tractor lance meets firefighters who saved his life
  • Teenager impaled by tractor lance meets firefighters who saved his life

Sam doesn’t remember much of what happened during the accident. But the 15-pound spear pierced his side and came out the back of his head.

First responders rushed to the field.

“I saw something that we were really unprepared for,” said Quinton Johnson, a paramedic firefighter with the Shelby County Fire Department.

These firefighters went straight to work to save Sam.

“We needed to get him to breathe some air, so we put him on oxygen. We have intravenous injections, ”Johnson said. “We are the ones who stabilized his neck, kept his neck steady.”

Meanwhile, Sam’s parents, who were out of town, got the call, their son was injured and immediately began the five-hour journey home.

“We went for two hours not knowing what exactly had happened. Was he OK or not OK? I kept asking, ‘Is he going to survive? Will he survive? ‘ Sam’s father Todd Reid said.

Rescuers didn’t want to move Sam too much but had to unhook him from the tractor without moving the spear near his vital organs.

“We had to make sure to keep his neck still, as any movement to the left or right, the tip could have entered his heart or spinal cord,” Johnson said.

They tried out several tools before eventually using a chop saw to cut the trailer spear, leaving part of it inside Sam.

“We had about 6 to 8 inches to work, to get this big tool between where he was on the tractor and where he was on the edge of his clothes. We had to be able to get the blade in from where it was to free it, ”said Ernest Ty Larry, who was driving one of the Shelby County Fire Department trucks that day.

They used water to keep the tip from overheating and catching Sam’s clothes on fire.

No helicopter was available, so Sam was transported to hospital by ambulance, where medics took care of removing the steel rod.

By the time Sam’s parents arrived at the hospital, their son was released from surgery. They finally heard how bad it was.

“It was very scary. He had a lot of things attached to him. Bells, whistles, monitors, fluids. He had a neck brace, ”said Christie Reid, Sam’s mother.

Sam’s father said he was amazed his son survived.

“The point was pressed against his heart. He barely missed his heart. He was missing his spine. Missing his chin strap. It’s just a miracle he can survive this, ”he said. “I’m so grateful to these guys, their skills, their talent and their expertise that saved him.”

After three surgeries and 34 days in and out of the hospital, Sam recovered and even graduated from Arlington High School in May, returning to the things he loves to do.

But one thing on his list was to meet the firefighters who saved him months earlier.

“I can’t thank them enough at all. They saved my life, ”Sam said.

The meeting was also exciting for the first responders, as they usually do not have the opportunity to meet with their patients.

“This was probably one of the first calls that I got to see the results of the work these guys did on site,” said Ron Royal, fire chief with the Shelby County Fire Department. “And all I can say is I’m glad all of these guys are working with me.”

Teenager impaled by tractor lance meets firefighters who saved his life
Sam Reid, 18, meets the Shelby County firefighters who saved his life. One of them is holding the spear of the tractor that went through Sam’s body. (WREG)

The saving actions of the firefighters did not go unnoticed. Tennessee Governor Bill Lee presented them with the “Tennessee Three Star Award” for their heroic actions.

Back in Shelby County, they were all recognized by their department for what they did on that snowy day in February.

It’s something that makes them all believe in miracles.

“I have been a firefighter for 24 years. I’ve seen a lot of things, but never, never anything like it, ”said Larry.


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