ST. GEORGE – After a horrifying motorcycle accident that nearly took his life, St. George resident Steve Zohner, 56, and his family have grown closer than ever thanks to the lessons learned from his second chance.
On March 4, Steve Zohner was riding his motorcycle along Old Highway 91 with his cousin, Dave Zohner, his cousin’s wife, Monica Zohner, and friends Marty Lane and Kelli Lane. He lost control and skidded off the road on a curve near mile marker 12, slamming his body into a road sign. He sustained numerous life-threatening injuries, the most serious of which were a severe cervical spine fracture, collapsed lungs and blood clot in a main artery. In a matter of days, Steve Zohner went into cardiac arrest and was revived twice and endured two major operations to repair his fractured neck.
Over the last two months, he has progressed from clinging to life in intensive care to being fully alert and talking, with flashes of his old self growing more frequent.
“My life has changed completely since the accident. I’m having to learn how to live again.” Steve Zohner said. “But I’m so grateful to still be here. Things could be a lot worse.”
A quadriplegic, he has partial feeling and movement in his arms and legs but no dexterity or strength in his hands and cannot walk, stand or sit up by himself. He needs assistance to eat, bathe, dress and be transferred into his wheelchair. During his time in the hospital, he has battled through several bouts of pneumonia and infections and also has residual heart and lung damage from the trauma of his ordeal.
Though physically a shadow of the man he once was, his vivacious personality is still present, along with his determination to get back on his feet, both figuratively and literally. Doctors are hopeful and have high expectations for his recovery with continued rehabilitation and physical therapy.
“My goal is to walk again, and I believe I can do it,” Steve Zohner said. “I feel like the sky is the limit as far as my recovery. Every day, I improve and can do something I couldn’t do yesterday. My ultimate goal is to be able to live life like I used to.”
“If anyone can bounce back from something like this, it’s Steve,” Dave Zohner said.
A native of North Las Vegas, Steve Zohner worked for the City of Henderson for over two decades and also served as a military police officer in the Army for five years. His lifelong passion for bikes came from his father, a motorcycle policeman. His involvement in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a main part of his life. His wife, Lisa Zohner, to whom he has been married for 20 years and has nine children with, said he is “friendly, funny and tough as nails.”
“Steve is an amazing guy. He draws people to him and is very easy to talk to,” Dave Zohner said. “There is not a place he goes that he doesn’t find new friends. When I visited him in the hospital, therapists would stop in just to say “hey” even though they did not work on that floor or that shift but wanted to come in and see him. He always has a great story to tell.”
Steve Zohner is expected to return to his home in St. George on Tuesday, after a 60-day hospital stay in Salt Lake City and two weeks of intensive care in Las Vegas. In preparation, the home’s bathrooms have been completely remodeled for ease of access and Lisa Zohner and other family members have trained in every aspect of his nearly round-the-clock care. Adjusting to this new life will undoubtedly be a challenge for the Zohners.
“I’ve been taken care of completely in the hospital. Now that I’m coming home, it’s a bit scary,” Steve Zohner said. “But at the same time, I can’t wait to be in my own house.”
On June 1 at noon, the Steve Zohner Recovery Celebration will be held at Zion-Harley Davidson. A barbeque and entertainment will be featured at this fundraising social gathering. Everyone from friends and acquaintances past and present to strangers who have been inspired by his story are encouraged to attend, donate all they can and welcome him home. For those who cannot attend or would like to give beforehand, the Friends of Steve Zohner Facebook page offers a fundraising link and regular updates on his condition.
“I’m very excited for this barbeque and the chance to be reunited with people that I either haven’t seen since the accident or in 10 years,” Steve Zohner said. “I want to thank all my friends who rallied behind me. They’ve been there for me every minute and have all helped make my life easier.”
Among those friends are the Utah Downed Biker Fund, Zion Harley-Davidson, the St. George Lions Club, Lin’s and Costco, all of which donated funds and time. But many others, including neighbors, co-workers and church members, also helped in the form of a hug or kind words of support.
“St. George is a great place to call home. People are so caring, so concerned,” Dave Zohner said. “This community rallies around those in need and gives from the heart. We are humbled.”
The Zohners have also drawn closer together in the face of adversity. Lisa Zohner said that both she and her husband have changed for the better, realizing that he was given another chance at life. Their relationships with family and friends have strengthened and they appreciate that each day is a gift.
“Steve is a changed man, physically, emotionally and spiritually. The wreck has changed all of our lives forever and we are grateful that he is still here; we know he is here for a reason,” Dave Zohner said. “Through all of this, he and Lisa are falling in love all over again and this has become a love story. It has been wonderful to watch.”
“This is all for our good. I’ve never felt so close to Steve,” Lisa Zohner said. “Life sure has a way of teaching us things we didn’t think we needed to learn.”
Event details and contact information
Date: June 1
Location: Zion Harley-Davidson, 2345 North Coral Canyon Boulevard, Washington City
Admission: Free (donations accepted)
Contact: Dave Zohner – 435-619-6383
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2013, all rights reserved.