Local woman’s life saved by good Samaritans

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Donna Teynor had a tragic experience Sept. 15, 2017, when she crashed her 1971 three-wheeled Cushman Truckster. Police Chief Chad Abram was one of several good Samaritans who was there immediately after the crash, and utilized life-saving measures to assure Donna’s didn’t lose her right leg or her life. (Photo by Correne Martin)

By Correne Martin

Donna Teynor is still alive, and she still has her right leg, because the finest Samaritans showed up at the right place and time, Sept. 15, 2017.

It was a seasonal fall day on St. Feriole Island. Donna had been at the county building in Prairie, tending to flowers, as she does for many of the area’s beautiful parks. She was driving her 1971 three-wheeled Cushman Truckster west on Washington Street toward the city’s Memorial Gardens. She attempted to make a left-hand turn toward the Moore building and, as she rounded the corner, the steering wheel snapped hard to the left.

She crashed the small, red Truckster, which Prairie du Chien residents have likely seen around True Value and the community’s gardens for the 15 years she’s owned it. 

“I think I hit a rock or a chuck hole. I knew I was gonna tip over. I had containers of water in the back that tipped,” Donna remembered. “I slid across the road with my right leg under the box and fender of the scooter. When I stopped, my right leg was underneath and I was on my right shoulder.”

Donna pinned her right leg underneath the scooter and severed a main artery. She could have bled to death in mere minutes, had it not been for a few local heroes who happened upon the scene. Instead, she has a plate and six screws holding together her tibia. She also dislocated her knee and broke her ankle.

“My family could’ve been planning my funeral,” she reflected gratefully. “I’ll be back gardening and doing the things I love, this summer, because they were there, they had the right skills and knew exactly what to do.”

Initially in shock, Donna said the moments directly after the crash remain a blur for her. 

She pulled her cell phone out of her pocket and dialed 911 and set the phone in the vehicle’s basket while talking to the dispatcher. 

It was then that she heard a familiar voice. It was Police Chief Chad Abram. 

Chad was on duty and right behind Donna when the accident happened. There were two other ladies there­, Delta Stickfort and Crystal Kimber, according to the accident report. 

“I remember Chad asking if somebody had a pillow or a blanket and the one lady went to her car to get a blanket. Both [Delta and Crystal] were coaching me to breathe,” Donna shared. 

At one point, Donna noticed the Cushman was on its wheels. 

“Chad had flipped it up off me. He was taking his belt off to make a tourniquet when the rescue squad came,” she said.

According to her memory, Larry Gates, city water superintendent, and police sergeant Kyle Teynor, who is also Donna’s nephew, were on scene immediately as well. Her sister, Debbie Johnson, was nearby and came to the crash site. Kyle and Debbie took care of reaching her husband, Tony. 

“I remember them starting IVs and radioing for medflight. After that, I don’t remember a whole lot,” Donna added. “Chad did ask me if it had been on my bucket list to get a ride in a helicopter.”

As things turned out, her emergency situation was stabilized right at Crossing Rivers Health in Prairie du Chien, and she wasn’t transferred to Gundersen Health in La Crosse until later, by ambulance.

In La Crosse, Donna had six surgeries, including skin grafting, all on her right leg. Her orthopedic surgeon told her he couldn’t believe she still had the leg after all that had happened. 

“It was a very real possibility,” she said about potentially losing her leg. 

Donna spent a month in the Gundersen hospital and then 10 days at the Great River Care Center in McGregor recovering. On Oct. 28, after learning how to do her own wound dressings, she finally went home.

“It’s been tough, a challenge. We have an old farmhouse, so the doors are narrow; it’s not handicapped accessible,” she stated. “Luckily, I was strong enough physically to lift myself up with one leg. I’m doing the exercises the therapist showed me.”

Even though she’s recuperating steadily, she’s still in a lot of pain. Though the range of motion is improving with her right leg, she’s not as mobile as she used to be. 

“This is the new norm. I’m just learning a new way to do things,” she assured herself. “At first, it was just one minute at a time. Now, it’s one day at a time.”

Considering the adversity Donna faced, and the scar tissue that’s a vivid reminder of the crash, she’s doing pretty well five months later. 

As she continues ahead in her journey, Donna can’t help but feel grateful for the citizens who were there in an instant to help save her life. She’s humbly realized, had it not been for them, and their quick action, she may not be here to tell her story.

“The outcome for me would’ve been totally different if not for them,” she said.

As for her little red Cushman, it’s sitting in a shed on her property; she hasn’t been brave enough to peek at it yet. But, if possible, she plans to restore it and drive it again.

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