DRAPER — Draper firefighter Bart Vawdrey, who was struck by a vehicle on I-15 while helping another motorist last month, feels lucky to have escaped with only minor injuries.
“I’m doing all right, considering,” the battalion chief said with a slight laugh on Tuesday.
Vawdrey was one of the first emergency responders to arrive at a crash on I-15 near 14600 South about 8 p.m. Dec. 27. He had just gotten out of his vehicle to assess the situation when another vehicle started sliding toward him.
“I tried to leap, (though) obviously not far enough,” he said. “I got hit. Next thing I know, I was being tossed through the air.”
Crash scene investigators estimated he flew roughly 25 feet before hitting the ground. He tried to stand up but immediately realized he couldn’t.
Vawdrey still had the awareness to crawl to the nearby Jersey barrier where he then used the emergency radio strapped to his uniform to tell dispatchers he had been hit and needed help.
“You know, the first thing I thought about was my family,” he said while choking up. “I just thought, ‘I got to get somebody to my house to talk to my wife.’”
The husband and father of three daughters wasn’t sure yet how bad his injuries were. He was transported to the hospital in a medical helicopter. Initials reports put him in critical condition; however, after doctors got a better look at him, his condition was upgraded.
“Right now, I’m looking at shoulder surgery. I’ve got three of the four muscles in my rotator cuff are torn. Then a possible hip surgery down the road to replace some ligaments,” he said.
Vawdrey said he was still sore, had some pain and needed a crutch to walk around slowly.
“We had a nice anniversary, a 25-year anniversary trip coming up, and I’m sure that will be canceled,” Vawdrey said.
It’s proof things can happen fast and change in a second.
“Obviously I feel very fortunate. It could have been a completely different outcome,” he said.Comment on this story
He wanted to remind drivers to slow down whenever they see an emergency vehicle on the side of the road and to move over if possible, especially when the weather is bad in slippery conditions.
He estimated the car that hit him was doing about 50 miles an hour.
Vawdrey also thanked the public and his fellow firefighters for all the assistance and support they’ve been giving him.
He remembered seeing several firefighters and police officers in the hallway of Intermountain Medical Center when he was being treated.
“It was amazing. All the support. It’s appreciated,” he said.
Contributing: Pat Reavy