Dixie State rugby player in coma following longboarding crash

Jonah Tuttle remains in a coma at Dixie Regional Medical Center following a longboarding accident at Snow Canyon State Park, St. George, Utah, April 19, 2016 | Photo courtesy of Just Wake Up Jonah blog, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A 21-year-old St. George man remains in a coma Wednesday after suffering a traumatic head injury while riding his longboard Sunday in Snow Canyon State Park.

Jonah Tuttle is a member of Dixie State University's rugby team, photo location and date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Dixie State Rugby
Jonah Tuttle is a member of Dixie State University’s rugby team, photo location and date unspecified | Photo courtesy of Dixie State Rugby

Three days after the accident, Jonah Tuttle is listed in critical condition in the Intensive Care Unit at Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George where he was transported via Life Flight following the crash.

According to a Donations for Jonah webpage, Tuttle broke his skull in seven places during the accident and suffered a major brain injury – which required doctors to remove of a piece of his brain.

Tuttle, a member of Dixie State University’s rugby team, was visiting the park with his friend, according to a blog created by Tuttle’s friends and family to provide updates on his recovery. During the visit, Tuttle asked his friend to drive him to the top of the canyon and follow behind him in a car as he rode his longboard back down. A longboard is a piece of sports equipment similar to a skateboard although much longer and often faster because of wheel size.

“He started to longboard and he was doing just fine,” Tuttle’s friend wrote in the blog. “He was going at a steady speed, leisurely gliding by, but then the hill began to get steeper, his speed picked up faster than anticipated and he began to lose his balance.”

Jonah Tuttle remains in a coma at Dixie Regional Medical Center following a longboarding accident at Snow Canyon State Park, St. George, Utah, April 19, 2016 | Photo courtesy of Just Wake Up Jonah blog, St. George News
Jonah Tuttle remains in a coma at Dixie Regional Medical Center following a longboarding accident at Snow Canyon State Park, St. George, Utah, April 19, 2016 | Photo courtesy of Just Wake Up Jonah blog, St. George News

At the parking lot of the upper galoot, Tuttle lost his balance, stepped off his board and rolled across the road before coming to rest in the brush on the side of the road, according to his friend’s post.

“He was going so fast and was so completely out of control of his body, like he was just a crash test dummy being abused by the asphalt,” his friend wrote. “He had the worst case of road rash all along his sides and arms and had blood all over his body and right ear.”

A group of hikers rushed to Tuttle’s aid and were able to radio authorities for help as there was no cellphone service in the area. According to the blog, Tuttle was gasping for air and wasn’t responding to any questions. Tuttle remained unconscious as he was transported to the hospital by Life Flight.

Night after night, Tuttle’s family, friends and teammates have lined the floors of the ICU waiting room as they anxiously await news from medical personnel about Tuttle’s condition.

Dixie State rugby players line the ICU waiting room floor while teammate Jonah Tuttle remains in a coma at Dixie Regional Medical Center, St. George, Utah, April 19, 2016 | Photo courtesy of Just Wake Up Jonah blog, St. George News
Dixie State rugby players line the ICU waiting room floor while teammate Jonah Tuttle remains in a coma at Dixie Regional Medical Center, St. George, Utah, April 19, 2016 | Photo courtesy of Just Wake Up Jonah blog, St. George News

Monday morning started out being filled with “unsettling, painful and discouraging news,” one of Tuttle’s sisters wrote in the blog on Monday. Doctors tried taking Tuttle off his pain medication to wake him up, but he wasn’t responding.

The swelling of Tuttle’s brain wasn’t subsiding and doctors said they needed to drain some of the fluid to give Tuttle’s brain more room to expand without further damage.

“They drilled a new, pencil-sized hole through his skull and inserted a bright orange tube through his brain to remove the fluid,” Tuttle’s sister wrote. “Thankfully, it was a quick procedure and Jonah was stabilized. Throughout the day, the pressure on his brain went down and he began to respond to pain by shedding small tears and was even able to softly cry out.”

Tuttle began running a fever Monday night and his brain started to swell due to over-stimulation, according to the blog.

“They took him off of his medication for two hours to see if he would wake up, but Jonah wouldn’t respond,” Tuttle’s sister wrote Tuesday. “He was then officially in a non-medically induced coma. We were all so heartbroken. My mom gathered us siblings together and said that the doctors seemed to be lacking hope.”

Tuttle’s mother was given permission to rub “healing oils” on his feet and his father and grandfather were able to give him a church blessing, Tuttle’s sister wrote, adding: “Not even an hour later, Jonah’s temperature dropped and the pressure on his brain began to improve. Jonah has remained stable throughout the entire day.”

Tuesday night was Tuttle’s best night yet, Tuttle’s sister wrote, describing Tuttle as seeming to be “peaceful” and “more like himself.”

“This morning when they took Jonah off of his pain medication, he finally responded to the stimuli,” Tuttle’s sister wrote on Wednesday. “When they were tickling his ribs this morning, he was able to move his head back and forth. When they touched his feet, he reacted by moving them. As the nurse was putting a tube down his throat to check his temperature, Jonah grabbed the nurse’s arm.”

As of Wednesday, Tuttle’s sister said the swelling of Tuttle’s face and head has subsided and he continues to show signs of healing.

A Donations for Jonah GoFundMe page, set up Tuesday to help raise money for Tuttle’s medical expenses, had garnered $1,700 from 30 people within one day.

Resources 

Email: kscott@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.

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