By Evamarie Socha
The Daily Item
MIFFLINBURG — Lewisburg Borough Manager Chad Smith is home, continuing to heal from injuries, including a broken back, he suffered in a rollover wreck July 12 on Interstate 80.
“I sustained a number of injuries, the most serious being my vertebrae,” Smith told the Daily Item Tuesday from his Mifflinburg home. “I continue to strengthen and get better.”
Smith, 41, was treated for nearly at week at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville after he was thrown from his vehicle during the accident, which happened the night of July 12. He was found lying in a ditch at the scene.
According to state police, Smith was driving a 2007 Ford F-150 pickup truck westbound on the interstate in Turbot Township and had just passed another vehicle when he returned to the right lane and appeared to lose traction on the wet road, a witness from the passed vehicle told police.
“I hydroplaned,” Smith said, “and that was the end result. Of course on Interstate 80, the speeds were not 40 mph. I flipped, rolling the vehicle many times and at some point, I was ejected.” Police estimate he was traveling at about 70 to 75 mph, he said.
Smith’s truck struck a steep embankment and flipped end over end for about 300 feet, first coming to rest on the embankment then sliding down it, police reported. He was found near the truck.
Smith sustained a number of injuries, most serious being the broken vertebrae. Doctors have told him it’s a miracle he isn’t paralyzed, he said, because one vertebra burst, and a fragment was sitting on Smith’s spinal cord. Thanks to skilled handling by emergency medical technicians and hospital personnel who tended to him, Smith made it to care without that complication.
Smith also broke some ribs and his sternum and had “cuts and scrapes and bruises but not one stitch,” he said. Staples from his back surgery were removed Tuesday, he said. “I continue to strengthen every day.”
Smith said he is doing some work from home, responding to emails and remaining “behind the scenes but at a much slower pace for right now. I don’t know when I will get back, but I will be back in the saddle,” he said.
Councilman Trey Casimir said all borough officials and council members are pleased and relieved Smith is doing well and is home. On an interim basis, borough employees have agreed to increase their job responsibilities awaiting Smith’s return.
“Chad does a lot,” he said, “and even picking up half of what was on his plate is going to put a lot on people,” adding everyone, especially Borough Secretary Patricia Garrison, is doing “a marvelous job.”
Doctors have told Smith it will be six months to a year before he’s back to where he was but in six to seven weeks should be healed from everything. It will be about three to four weeks before he can start functioning again, Smith said, though he is able to get up and walk around without assistance.
“I’m happy for my family and for the support,” Smith said, adding cards and wishes continue to pour in. His family — wife Linda and three sons, ages 16, 13 and 6 — always “had a positive outlook that I would come through this,” he said.
“If I can offer anything back, it’s a thank you,” he said, “and please drive safely.”