Patrick McKnight
Age 47, Herriman
Injured 6/30/2012 at Sherwood Hills.

Reported by Bruce Argyle

At mile 3.3 of the Sport Men 40-plus race, Patrick was crossing the big meadow at the northern end of the Sherwood Hills race loop at high speed. He hit a large embedded rock at trailsideand was launched forward. (N41 36.593 W111 59.084) Corbin Young was right behind him to witness the crash. Patrick flew 25 feet through the air, striking on the front of his helmet and shattering it. His face hit the ground hard, pushing his head back. As Corbin reached him, Patrick whispered that he'd broken out his teeth, then fell unconscious.

As I arrived approximately two minutes after the accident, Jim Speer and Corbin Young were assisting Patrick on the scene. I found Patrick lying across the trail on his left side with no spontaneous motion and no response to voice or facial stimulation. He was breathing, but ineffectively with gasping respirations at around 8 per minute. Patrick had signs of severe facial trauma with widespread abrasion and bruising of the forehead, severely impacted and missing teeth, and a large laceration from cheek into the mouth.

I performed jaw-thrust to get the airway open. Respirations improved but only the stomach seemed to move with breathing, which is suspicious for spinal cord injury. I swept loose teeth out of the mouth. We log-rolled Patrick onto his back while I maintained head and neck in neutral position with in-line traction. Patrick didn't regain consciousness. We waited anxiously for the EMTs to come.

After a couple of minutes, respirations started slowing and seemed to be moving less air. Patrick then stopped breathing. I began mouth-to-mouth respirations. One of the assisting racers noted that there was no pulse at the femoral artery. Four individuals rotated through chest compressions while I continued rescue breathing. The two I can identify were racer Jim Speer and series director Ed Chauner, who was racing and arrived in time to be the third chest compressor. At around 8 minutes of CPR, Patrick showed an occasional gasp immediately after rescue breaths, and at 10 minutes we found a pulse. We stopped CPR. Patrick began breathing spontaneously again.

At that point, medical personnel with equipment arrived. I continued providing head stabilization while a c-collar and oral airway were applied. EMT/paramedics provided oxygen and brief ventilatory assistance, started two IVs, and secured Patrick on a backboard. Patrick began to moan, but still showed no sign of awareness or responsiveness. Life Flight arrived to fly him to McKay Dee Hospital in Ogden.

At the hospital, Patrick was found to have fractures of the odontoid process and dens (body) of C2 (the second cervical vertebra which is the first full vertebral body below the skull). The odontoid, which is like a thumb sticking up from the body of C2 and is surrounded by the ring of C1, was displaced backwards. This is a highly unstable and dangerous fracture. The cervical cord was intact but was swollen on MRI. There were spinous process fractures (trivial but painful injuries) at C4 and C5.

Patrick remained on a ventilator at McKay Dee. He had an operation to stabilize the spine on 7/2. They found a lot of swelling of the spinal cord and surrounding tissues. Later in the week, an electroencephalogram and MRI showed signs of permanent and severe brain injury. On 7/5, his sister approved a plan to take Patrick off life support the next day: Friday 7/6, day 7 after the accident. He will be an organ donor.