ST. GEORGE — A 17-year-old St. George boy has been hospitalized with serious injuries after falling some 25 feet from the rooftop of a two-story house while helping his grandfather remove Christmas lights – something the teen does every year for his grandfather during the holidays.
“He’s my Clark Griswold,” the teen’s mother, Alana Bradbury, said of her son. “This kid loves Christmas. He looks forward to it every year.”
Her son, Jordan Evans, was with family members Monday helping to take down the Christmas lights adorning his grandfather’s home located on the east side of the Black Hill in St. George.
Evans, a senior at Snow Canyon High School, was near the edge of the roof just before 10 a.m. when he lost his balance and fell some 25 feet before plummeting onto the concrete slab below.
“I slipped and I couldn’t stop myself,” Evans said. “I tried grabbing the gutter when I got all the way down – had a hold of it, but it just bent and broke away from me, and I grabbed onto the lights and pulled all the lights down.”
Evans said he doesn’t remember landing but remembers being in a pool of blood.
“I thought I was pretty much dead. I thought it was a bad dream. I didn’t know why it was happening to me. It felt like it just – it was scary,” Evans said, adding: “I was in shock so I didn’t really feel any of the pain. But after a minute or two, I started feeling all the pain and it hurt a lot.”
Witnesses called 911 and Evans was rushed via ambulance to Dixie Regional Medical Center in St. George.
Bradbury, who works as a trauma coordinator for the hospital’s operating room, said receiving the call about her son’s fall and injuries was the worst call she had ever received. Conveniently, she was at work at the time and was able to meet the ambulance as it arrived at the Emergency Room with her son.
“Thankfully, his head was OK,” Bradbury said, “but he did sustain some substantial injuries.”
As a result of the fall, Evans sustained a broken tibia, fibula, left foot, right thumb, nose and cheek bone, along with a compression fracture in his lower back, Bradbury said, adding that doctors had taken her son into surgery Monday to repair his tibia and fibula.
“It’s so scary,” Bradbury said of her son’s fall, “and he’s really so lucky it wasn’t much worse.”
Evans has somewhat of a long road to recovery, Bradbury said, adding that her son will likely be in a wheelchair for the next eight weeks and won’t be able to put any weight on either of his feet.
Don’t fall for the holiday sparkle
Whether you keep your Christmas light display simple or you do your house up like the Griswold’s, installing and removing holiday lights can be hazardous to your health.
In November and December of 2014, an estimated 13,000 people were treated in emergency rooms around the country for injuries tied to holiday lights, Christmas trees, ornaments and other decorations, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
A study published in September 2015 in the journal Injury found that falls while installing Christmas lights can be life-altering, leaving individuals with the inability to live independently, or result in death.
The study showed about 65 percent of the people injured while installing Christmas lights had fallen from a ladder while 30 percent had fallen from a roof, resulting in injuries from broken bones and internal bleeding to head and spinal cord injuries.
Among some of the most severe cases, which the Injury study evaluated, the average length of hospital stay was more than two weeks. Five percent of the patients died and a significant number required critical care and operative intervention, according to the study.
Caution should be employed when installing lights at any height. The study provides the following safety tips:
- Assess your physical abilities and limitations. Anyone with balance issues or taking blood thinners – increasing the risk of bleeding should an injury arise – should avoid climbing ladders altogether.
- Survey the weather. Reschedule your decorating efforts if a winter storm or other nasty outdoor condition could make the experience dangerous.
- Make sure you have firm footing. Falls can occur from roofs and railings, and commonly involve a ladder. So, ladder safety is a must:
- Choose a ladder that’s long enough for the job, extending at least 3 feet over the roofline or working surface.
- Put the ladder only on level, firm ground and make sure it can support your weight.
- Set up the ladder at a 75-degree angle, and away from doors that could be opened or power lines.
- Have a helper hold the ladder.
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