Crash leaves Milton man paralyzed, positive

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Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Devin Elmer isn’t giving up on walking again.

And Elmer already has proved that when he says “not giving up,” he means it.

Elmer, of Milton, was paralyzed from the waist down after losing control of his motorcycle at the off ramp from northbound Interstate 90/30 to westbound Highway 14 in Janesville on July 26.

He was trapped in the grassy bowl inside the ramp loop until he was able to find and use his cell phone to call 911 about 36 hours after the accident.

Elmer, 41, is waiting to get into rehabilitation therapy, he told The Janesville Gazette in a phone interview from his bed at University Hospital, Madison. In rehab, he will learn to get into his wheelchair by himself and learn to use a catheter and other equipment to regulate his body functions.

Elmer has enjoyed visits from his sons—Dayton, 7, and Eran, 5. The three have played basketball outside on a hospital patio and have “cruised” in Elmer’s wheelchair to get ice cream, he said.

“I know they’re bewildered by it, by how their dad is laid up,” Elmer said. “It will change. It will come together, somehow.”

Elmer knows he’s lucky to be alive.

He was “launched” 30 feet from his motorcycle when he swerved and hit a gravel patch at the top of the ramp, Elmer said. He landed in a weedy patch at the bottom of the hill.

He spent the next day and night in terrible pain. He couldn’t feel his legs, but he tried to crawl to the highway or get the attention of cars passing by.

“I threw my jacket up to try and get someone’s attention,” Elmer said. “I tried to reflect sunlight with my watch. I was waving, yelling and screaming.”

Elmer only was able to get halfway up the hill to the Interstate, he said. He could move only inches at a time using his arms to drag himself through the weeds and thistles.

The dragging peeled Elmer’s pants from his legs, leaving his bare skin exposed to the thistles, he said.

When he crawled back down the hill, he finally heard his cell phone beeping. The sense of relief was overwhelming, he said.

“It was incredible. You don’t know,” Elmer said.

The battery in Elmer’s cell phone had just enough power to let him make a 3-minute, 26-second phone call to 911. He was able to tell Rock County dispatcher Matt Wogaman at 8:50 a.m. July 28 that he was “down in the cloverleaf,” that he could see Home Depot and that he was paralyzed and in shock.

He had crashed sometime before 1 a.m. July 26.

Elmer’s voice was warm and cheerful while he talked Tuesday about adjusting to life without strength or feeling below the waist.

“I have a good outlook,” Elmer said. “This is just another page in my history.”


Devin Elmer’s relatives have put together a Web page for Elmer on the Caring Bridge Web site, http://caringbridge.org/visit/devinelmer. Visitors may donate to a fund to help support Elmer and his sons. A fund has also been established at the Bank of Milton, 323 Parkview Drive, Milton.

Last updated: 10:03 pm Thursday, December 13, 2012

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