A Twin Cities man survived a brutal mountain biking accident thanks to a risky medical move by a stranger, CBS Minnesota reports.
The challenging Cuyuna Lakes Mountain Bike Trails, in Crow Wing County, Minnesota, are a therapeutic distraction for Todd. He's an Eagan, Minnesota father and corrections officer.
"It's a huge stress reliever, just with the nature of my job," Todd said.
It's a place where Dr. Jesse Coenen — an emergency room doctor in Hayward, Wisconsin — comes for post-work solace, as well.
"Mountain biking is an activity that I enjoy, which is why I happen to be in that spot that day," Coenen said.
"I mean, what are the odds?" Todd remarked to CBS Minnesota from his hospital bed in Minneapolis.
Todd, an experienced cyclist, took a violent fall near a ravine more than a week ago. He first spoke to CBS Minnesota Wednesday afternoon.
"I remember landing on like my stomach, and my chest took the brunt of the impact. I managed to kind of scoot myself up on this embankment on the left-hand side, and that's where I sat," Todd said.
"I was starting to see white spots. I'm like, 'OK, this isn't cool. … This isn't normal.'"
But that's when Todd's luck took an abrupt turn for the better.
Dr. Coenen approached medics who'd already arrived at the scene and performed an impromptu tracheotomy.
"It's not something that you want to have to do, but we found ourselves in the situation where there's not another option," he said.
"I must've been pausing before doing it, and one of the paramedics looked at me and said, 'We need an airway,' meaning this has to be done, and that's when I proceeded," Coenen recalled.
"That's an uncommon procedure, and when I had the scalpel in my hand, I was hesitant to do that because, obviously, cutting someone's neck, you're leaving a scar."
Todd was then airlifted to a hospital, where he was treated for a traumatic brain injury.
He doesn't remember the doctor, but does realize he was very fortunate.
"It does really sink in," an emotional Todd said. "I've got a wife, I've got a daughter who's 16 years old — she's a sophomore in high school."
So when Todd was released, CBS Minnesota made a virtual introduction between the men.
"It's great to know that you're alive, to be honest," Coenen said to Todd in a Zoom reunion Wednesday evening. "I was not optimistic about the outlook, so being able to sit here and talk with you today, only 10 days later, is really unbelievable."
Todd told Dr. Coenen how grateful he was.
"I can send you the biggest virtual hug that is known to anybody," Todd said. "It's kind of like, you know, when a kid gets a teddy bear and he's holding the bear so tight — I mean, that's kind of what it feels like right now."
The two have already made plans to meet next summer and go for a ride.
Todd was wearing his helmet and had all the safety equipment he needed that day. He wants to remind others to do the same.
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