Firefighters marvel at accident victim’s miracle recovery

Published: March 29, 2007 | 5900th good news item since 2003

Fire Capt. Thor Hansen has seen plenty of tragedies in his 24 years on the job – and at least two true miracles.

The first involved three children, pulled dead from a fire, who are very much alive today.

The other is Robert Lynch.

On Sept. 8, Lynch’s head was crushed under a hydraulic lift while working at a loading dock in the Denver Tech Center. Firefighters from two nearby stations, including Hansen, arrived within a minute. No more than 30 seconds later, the Jaws of Life lifted the platform.

Lynch’s head, smashed by the steel, had turned so intensely purple that it almost looked black, firefighter Travis Gumm said. He wasn’t breathing, and he had no pulse.

“He was gone,” Hansen said.

On Wednesday, the firefighters who responded that day and Denver Fire Chief Larry Trujillo sat down to lunch at Station No. 22 with Lynch’s parents, wife, four kids – and the man himself.

“You look a lot better than the last time we saw you,” Hansen told Lynch as they shook hands.

“I pretty much assumed this was going to be a fatality,” firefighter A.J. Johansen said. “Just looking at him and the situation, you could tell this wasn’t going to be a good outcome.”

At the scene, Lynch was revived after a minute or two of CPR, Gumm recalled.

“It was almost unbelievable,” he said. “The trauma he survived was shocking.”

Lynch spent two months in the hospital. “I don’t remember any of it,” he said.

The steps forward have been slow but steady during the past six months.

He’s had to learn to walk and eat solid food again, and he still receives physical, occupational and speech therapy five days a week.

But no one has really told Lynch’s family what his future holds.

“They don’t like to say with a brain injury what’s going to happen. Nobody wants to tell us it’s permanent damage,” said his mother, Mary Lynch.

“I guess they always say they’re hopeful.

“He’s come a long way.”

Published in Firefighters, Miracles
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