Klay Jones coming home today
Wil and Nick Gay
Wil Gay (left) an EMT, and his son Nick (right), know how lucky Nick was to have only a broken hand from the ATV roll-over wreck earlier this month. Nick's friend, Klay, suffered multiple broken bones and other injuries and had to be LifeFlighted to a hospital. Nick was wearing a seatbelt. Sadly, Klay wasn't. They hope to use their accident as a way to send the message to others about the importance of wearing seatbelts and helmets.
12-year old seriously injured in ATV roll-over accident
by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online!
October 30, 2007
11/29/07 Editor's Update: This article is part of a media emphasis on seatbelt safety that has resulted from the 6-wheeler accident involving Klay Jones and Nick Gay. Click on this link for a follow-up article by Alicia Warren that appeared in the Pinedale Roundup today: ‘It’s a miracle he’s even here’ (Pinedale Roundup, 11/29/07)
11/2/07 Editor’s Note and Update: The families of the two youths wish to use the story of the accident to help get the word out about the importance of wearing seatbelts and helmets. Please see the November 1, 2007 edition of both the Pinedale Roundup (story by Jonathan Van Dyke) and the Sublette Examiner (story by Joy Ufford) for more on this interview. Also, click on this link for an audio version by Bob Rule with KPIN 101.1 FM Pinedale News Radio, Seatbelt Safety-Klay Jones/Nick Gay 6-Wheeler Accident (722K)
October 30, 2007:
After spending two weeks in the hospital as the result of sustaining serious injuries from a roll-over accident in an ATV earlier this month, Klay Jones is coming home today. The 12-year old youth suffered a broken arm, broken leg, five broken ribs, a broken shoulder blade, bruising to his lungs and damage to vertebrae in his neck. He will be in a wheelchair and wearing a neck brace. Luckily, there was no paralysis.
Klay was riding with his friend, 12-year old Nick Gay, in the Bargerville subdivision area near Boulder on Saturday, October 13th. They were riding a Polaris Ranger “6-wheeler”, a type of all-terrain vehicle (ATV) with four wheels in the back and two in front, and equipped with a roll bar. At some point, they lost control and swerved into a ditch. The ATV rolled two times. Klay, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was ejected from the ATV, with the Ranger believed to have rolled over the top of him. Nick, who was wearing his seatbelt, was contained in the ATV when it rolled.
Nick sustained only a broken hand in the accident. Klay’s injuries were so serious he had to be immediately LifeFlighted by helicopter to a hospital in Idaho Falls, and the next day was flown by plane to Primary Children's Hospital in Utah for specialized care. He spent eight days on a ventilator to breathe for him to relieve pressure on his lungs to help healing.
Due to the broken leg, Klay still can’t walk yet and is in a wheel chair. The good news is that he is sitting up on his own, eating and drinking. He is responsive and recognizes visitors. It is not certain whether or not he sustained a concussion – neither boy was wearing a helmet at the time of the accident. Doctors need to wait until he is off the pain medication to do further functionality tests.
Nick is the son of Heidi and Wil Gay. Klay is the son of Karen and step-father Brad Stepp. Both familes live in the Bargerville-Boulder area south of Pinedale.
Seatbelts and helmets save lives
Wil Gay is the Supervisor for the Pinedale Emergency Medical Services EMTs. He would like to use the accident to help get the message out about the importance of wearing seatbelts and helmets. He sits on the Wyoming Seatbelt Coalition for Wyoming, representing EMS. According to a recent annual survey of seatbelt use by the Wyoming Department of Transportation, 70% of the people they observed were buckling up. Wyoming state law requires seat belt use, however many people still don’t wear them.
“The best way to get this out there is to use this wreck as an example of the difference. Two kids in the same vehicle. One wearing a seatbelt, one not wearing a seatbelt, and we can obviously see what the difference of the outcome is between the two kids,” said Gay. Klay's family is also supportive of this effort.
“We have to push seatbelt safety and seatbelt use,” he said. “Since their wreck on the 13th, in thirteen days we have had three roll-overs, counting this one with the ATV.” Of those three roll-over accidents, there were five patients. The two occupants who were wearing their seatbelts walked away from the wreck. Of the three that weren’t wearing seatbelts, one was a fatality and the other two had to be LifeFlighted out to hospitals.
“We can see first-hand that the seatbelts are making a difference. It’s just getting it out to people that they’ve got to wear them,” said Gay. His profession as an EMT allows him to see and deal first-hand with the victims of vehicle crashes.
“In 20 something years I’ve only seen one fatality where the person wearing their seatbelt died. We’re talking hundreds and hundreds of accidents that I’ve been on that I’ve only seen one dead that was strapped in a seatbelt,” he said. “I still say that I would rather be the statistic of dying with it on, then not have it on, get killed, then my wife and kids wondering would I have lived had I had it on.”
Nick said his family has a rule about having to wear seatbelts when riding in vehicles. He buckled up in the ATV, but Klay did not. Nick became a believer in wearing seat belts after watching crash videos that were being shown during training sessions as part of his father’s job as an EMT. One time he came to the ambulance barn after his soccer practice and was waiting for his father to get done. The staff was watching videos of crashes and the difference between wearing seat belts: “no seat belts, bodies flying in the air.” When they left to go home that evening and Wil did a check to make sure everyone was buckled in, Nick said, “Don’t worry, you won’t ever have to worry about me wearing my seatbelt again.”
“He saw it first-hand,” Gay said. “The videos made that big of an impact on him.” Nick, a 7th-grader, admits that many of his classmates probably don’t wear seatbelts. “I’m sure a lot of kids don’t wear them. They probably think it doesn’t really matter.”
The ATV Klay and Nick were in had seatbelts, but most ATVs, snowmachines, 3-wheelers and motorcycles don’t. “That’s where the importance of wearing a helmet comes in,” said Nick’s father.
“Where was your helmet that day?” Wil asked his son.
“Probably on my bed,” answered Nick.
“So what’s the difference between wearing a helmet on a motorcycle and with this?”
“It had a roll cage,” said Nick, illustrating the common misconception that a roll bar eliminates the need for head protection.
“The thing is with the trauma, if we can keep their head intact,” said Gay. “Typically if you break an arm or break a leg, they’ll recover from that. You damage the brain, and you’re at the mercy of God at that point,” he said. “So wear the helmet, protect the brain, we’ll deal with the broken bones.”
Nick's message to everyone is, “Wear your seatbelt!”