Miracle recovery has firefighter set to go home

Published: July 5, 2007 | 6524th good news item since 2003

A Hamilton firefighter who has been hospitalized since being trapped under water for more than 20 minutes during a training exercise in April will be going home Friday, according to a hospital spokesman.

Guy Karrick, a spokesman for the Drake Center in Cincinnati, said Chris Gabbard will be released at noon Friday. He said there would be some “tremendous visuals” at the discharge, which is expected to include Gabbard receiving a ride home in a fire truck.

After more than six weeks of recovery from the accident on the Great Miami River, it is good that Gabbard is going home, said Hamilton Fire Chief Joe Schutte.

“It’s truly a miracle,” he said.

Gabbard, 32, has been recovering since the April 17 accident that occurred during recertification training on the Great Miami River. About 12 members of the department’s River Rescue Team were present when two boats drifted toward the turbulent water near the dam and overturned.

Gabbard, a four-year firefighter, and three others fell into the water near the low-level dam. Three of the firefighters were pulled out of the water within minutes. Gabbard was under the water more than 20 minutes.

Gabbard was taken to The Fort Hamilton Hospital and then to University Hospital in Cincinnati before being transferred to the Drake Center.

A second firefighter, John Hansbauer, who sustained spinal and leg injuries during the accident, was released from Drake in early May.

After the accident, Schutte asked the community to pray for the recovery of Gabbard and Hansbauer.

“The prayers were certainly answered,” Schutte said. “There is no other way to explain it.”

R. Dennis Riddick, pastor of the Twinbrook Hills Baptist Church where Gabbard is a member, echoed Schutte’s claim that Gabbard’s recovery was miraculous.

“Both Fort Hamilton and University Hospitals gave him up and didn’t think he was going to live,” Riddick said. “Now, he’s up talking, eating regular food and getting visitors. He’s doing really well.”

Riddick said Gabbard was undergoing physical therapy to regain the use of his legs and had been walking some distances on his own.

Published in Firefighters
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