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State senator recovering from farm accident

Sept. 6, 2012 | 0 comments

North Dakota state Sen. Joe Miller (R-Park River) is on the road - not only the campaign trail for the November election - but the road to recovery from an Aug. 13 farm accident.

Miller was discharged recently from First Care Health Center in Park River, and spent some time at Altru starting the rehabilitation process.

He suffered a broken pelvis and serious knee injuries after he was momentarily sandwiched between a Payloader and a truck in a field on his Walsh County farm.

The senator represented District 16 for one term before being shifted to District 10 during the redistricting that followed the 2010 Census. He defeated incumbent Sen. Curtis Olafson (R-Edinburg) in the June primary and is facing Democrat Daryl Passa, Drayton, in November.

Miller cannot use his legs yet, and said he will have to have surgery eventually.

"I suppose I should be able to start doing some more normal things in a couple of weeks," he said. "It'll take a long time before I'm healed. I'll be able to get out eventually, but I won't be able to do any door-to-door. People will have to expect a phone call from me."

According to Miller, he had parked an old pickup on the field and left to talk to his father, Jim, and a neighbor, who were standing 30 or 40 feet away on a downhill slope. The brakes on a nearby Payloader gave and it rolled backwards toward the group.

"I went left. My dad went right. Then I realized I went the wrong way," Miller said.

The Payloader, its bumper at about knee-level, struck Miller, pushing him into the truck. "It took my knee out. I was trying to crawl up it to stop it, but I collapsed. I started going underneath the rear tire," he said.

"I was sort of on my side, on my hip," he said. "That saved my life. If it had been any other way, I could have been crushed, or paralyzed. It went over me on the toughest part of my bones. I was pretty fortunate to survive it."

A Lankin Quick Response vehicle arrived at the scene within about 15 minutes, followed by the Park River Volunteer Ambulance Service about five minutes later.

Miller was taken to Altru Hospital in Grand Forks, where he was treated for five days, before being transferred to Park River.

"It was a pretty traumatic scene," said Linda Meberg, an emergency medical technician with the ambulance service. "The van and the Payloader, they were together like a V, like a chicken wishbone."

She said Miller was conscious when she arrived.

The accident could have been much worse, she said. A physician who treated Miller told her it was fortunate the field was relatively wet from a recent rain, and the grass a bit slippery.

"There was no blood at the scene," she said. "For a guy that probably thought he was going to be dead shortly, he was real calm and collected. It was amazing."

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