Skyport westbound to top land at VOR
Eastbound to east end of Castle Ridge
Westbound for top impact at the Skyport
Broken Ankle (open medial sub talar dislocation)
Links to [Weather Archive] [Incident Report]
Logging flight 3 months later, so my memory is a little iffy on some of the details.
Hadn't flown in 7 weeks. Got back from a 5 week work trip on Wednesday night and spent Thursday with the Kids. Was planning to buckle down on Friday and clear some of the documentation backlog from my trip, but the day dawned clear. Scrambled to gather gear and get out the door for an early meet at Parma. I think I met Ron Faoro, but don't recollect how we got to launch. Might have jumped in with Darren.
Airborne about 10:30. Not much movement, but the sky was developing with low cloudbase. Got up at the Holly Hills and moved over to Cathedral. Stuck there for awhile due to low cloudbase not enabling enough altitude for a crossing. Finally got a little extra and took a heading toward Westbowl.
Got to the VOR spine down lower and struggled to work up. Couldn't quite get enough for a top landing. Started to give up a couple of times about a hundred below launch, but when I flew out I'd find another bubble so I kept trying. Finally got little over and dove in for a button hook turn to a high energy touchdown in the soft dirt. Took a little break and got away again.
Got to 4ish and bobbed back over to Westbowl via No Name. The sun line was out front. A couple of HGs were working week stuff in the shade, but I opted to go direct for the sun line. It worked but not to high so I came in on the low ridge below Cathedral down on the bushes. Dribbled on to the east point and climbed out from a hundred below. I think I stayed out on the sun line and came in on the low ridge below Montecito Peak.
Got to the east end of Castle Ridge up behind the last Castle Point. Had been dealing with some headwind from the east. The lift was spotty, and cloudbase low but rising. I had to pick the kids up from school, and my car was back at Parma. Seemed like a good day for a lap. Fell of the back ridge to try the sun out over the Castle Points and took the tailwind westbound back to the Skyport.
It was about 2:30ish. The day was starting to mellow, but still had some teeth. Had to pee, so I wanted down for a break. The air was a bit lively to put down on the road. I normally like to get deep in the breaks on the back side of the polar, but with active air I couldn't slow it down too much and risk stalling. Tried an approach up the road from pretty far back in the canyon, but climbed the whole way and was 30 feet too high by the time I got to the turn. Tried a couple of approaches downhill on the west side, plus another uphill pass on the east side, but still too high. It didn't seem like I was going to be able to get down.
Considered going to the Alternator, but it was questionable if I could get there. I opted to make one more approach on the east side. The slow mode wasn't working, so I tried coming in fast on the front side of the polar. Started from way back down low by Flores Flats. Forcing the issue. It seemed like I was going too fast to follow the path of the winding road, so I needed to pick a spot. The road takes a turn to the right just after a narrow spot where it goes to one lane. The same spot where a UCSB tri-athlete was killed on her bike by an asphalt truck about 10 weeks later. There were some barricades and a black tarp covering the slide area that was eating away at the road cut. I was going to miss the road by a few feet and end up on the tarp, so a gave a correction to the right.
The pendulum was a bit too much. On the right side of the road, a rocky outcropping projected into my flight path. I laid back and got my feet out front as I flared. The rocks looked pretty nasty and I was still going about 15 mph. I was going to hit them a few feet above the road at a 45 degree angle. I was planning to take most of the impact with my back protector, but stabbed to absorb as much as I could with my legs.
I didn't seem to hit too hard, but I heard a snapping sound. The realization that I might have broke my ankle flashed through my mind in slow motion. After settling, I looked down at my ankle. Even though I realized I might have broken something, I thought it would be intact. I wasn't prepared to see my right boot angled to the right and my bone protruding out the left side. I didn't understand the injury at the time, but it was obviously not good. I screamed and cursed in anger and frustration.
I was in over my head and needed assistance. I wanted it quickly. Bob Anderson was on the other side of the knob setting up. I yelled for help as loud as I could repeatedly. My radio wasn't working all day. I dumped my belly pack looking for my phone before remembering it was in my top shirt pocket. I connected to 911. Spent a couple of minutes on the phone giving details and describing my location. Had been on the ground maybe 5 minutes when a car came around the corner.
I waved to flag the car, and was relieved to see it was Tammy. I knew I was in capable hands. She did a quick survey and we discussed the options. I wanted immediate transport. Another car with two hikers pulled up to check on the calls for help. Tammy pulled her car alongside and with assistance managed to back into her back seat. We put some newspaper under the ankle to keep the blood off the upholstery.
The bare bone wasn't actually visible because it was contained within the torn boot and sock, but there was no doubt it was sticking out the side. The boot and sock were saturated with blood, but it wasn't dripping as much as I thought it would. Tammy did a good job avoiding the bumps and got down the hill as quickly as conditions would permit. Got back to 911 on the way down to cancel rescue. Called Pam to let her know I wouldn't be able to pick up the kids. We were at Cottage ER about an hour after impact.
Backed out the door behind me onto a gurney. Went to the front of the line. The initial chatter from the staff contained speculation that I had an Open Tib Fib Compound Fracture. They cut my clothes off. The large bone protruding a couple of inches out the side of my ankle looked ugly. I thought I was looking at my Tibia. I didn't learn until a while later that it was actually an Open Medial Sub-Talar Dislocation, and I was looking at my Talus (ankle bone).
They got some morphine in me about 20 or 30 minutes after arrival. Just in time as I was starting to shake uncontrollably. I asked someone to hold my foot because as I shook it flopped around and would flux in pain with each flop. They disinfected the exposed bone with a pressure washer. Took some x-rays and the attending ER doctor strategized with his assistants. About an hour after arrival at the ER, they put me under conscious sedation and popped the talus back into its socket on the Calcaneus (heal bone). Upon regaining consciousness, I felt much better.
They sent me for a cat scan. The on call orthopedic physician, Dr. Shepherd arrived and evaluated. I was I bit concerned about his age (33), but he assured my he was qualified. Went into surgery about 7 that night to clean and take a look. A second surgery on Sunday morning to put Humpty back together again. Home on Tuesday.