Woman Impaled in Neck by Branch Is OK

Twenty-year-old Michelle Childers was out for a relaxing drive near her home in Idaho when the unthinkable happened: she was impaled by a 2-foot-long tree branch. Quick thinking by her husband and medical staff, coupled with sheer luck, helped save her life. CBS

A northern Idaho woman who was impaled in the neck by a tree limb during a recreational drive over the Labor Day weekend says she "can't believe I'm here" to tell about it.

Michelle Childers, 20, and her husband were driving down a rural road along a river in the north-central part of the state on Sept. 5 when a spruce tree crashed through the passenger side window of their pickup truck.

Childers, a Kamiah, Ida. native, said on "The Early Show Saturday Edition" that, "It came out of nowhere. We had went around a blind corner and we're assuming that this tree was stuck out into the road and the way we took the corner, it just came in through the passenger window and stuck into my neck, and then broke off on the cab of the truck. But it happened so fast and it was loud, it was like an explosion. And I didn't know what happened.

"I didn't feel it go in," Childers told co-anchor Erica Hill. "It just felt like a lot of pressure, like maybe a tree had fallen on me and was pinning me against the seat, is what I thought had happened. And then I had asked (her husband) Daniel (who happens to work in the timber industry), 'My gosh, what happened?' And he told me, 'It's in your neck.' And at that point, I was just -- 'Take a deep breath and we'll get through this.' "

With no cell phone service in the area, the couple drove to the Lochsa Lodge, near the Idaho-Montana border, to call for help and arrived about an hour after the tree limb went into her.

Daniel told Hill that driving that long under such pressure "was really bad. I about passed out a couple times."

While Childers waited to be flown by helicopter to St. Patrick Hospital in Missoula, Mont., she said a nurse and her husband were staying at the lodge and tried to calm her down.

"So, here I am sitting in a pickup with all these wonderful people around me and a 13-inch spruce limb with branches coming off it still in my neck," Childers told KHQ-TV.

"She says, 'You look OK, and you're going to be fine.' And I believed her," Childers recalled for Hill. "And she said, 'You've been like this for a couple hours now. You're not bleeding. You haven't lost consciousness. You're going to be just fine.' And then, not too long after that is when I heard the helicopter. And was like, 'OK. I am going to be OK."

The 13-inch tree limb was removed from her neck during a six-hour surgery, Childers says, and she was left wearing a large piece of gauze on the scar on left side of her neck.

She told Hill she feels "lucky and grateful. ... I can't believe I'm here to look at the pictures" of her with the branch in her neck.

Childers has the branch, but says the smell is still tough for her. And because of that, no Christmas tree this year. "I just don't want it in my house. It would be uncomfortable, I think," she remarked to Hill.

Childers doesn't have insurance. Friends have set up an account for the couple at a local Sterling Savings bank location to help pay for her medical expenses.
  • CBSNews

Comments