Bicycle accident leaves Vacaville man hoping to walk again

By From page A1 | December 03, 2012

Roehrs Courtesy photo

Vacaville resident Steve Roehrs was in a bicycle accident on Nov. 25, breaking part of his vertebrae as well as 14 of his ribs. (Courtesy photo)

VACAVILLE — When Steve Roehrs left for his weekly bike ride through the country, it was like any other Sunday.

Aside from leaving a bit later than normal, the Vacaville resident stuck to his routine that helped him lose 80 pounds.

When his wife Elizabeth got a call on Nov. 25 that her husband was in a bicycle accident, she was told he had broken a leg and she needed to go pick up his bike. She later got a call saying Steve was being transferred to UC Davis Medical Center in Sacramento.

The next call was more serious – an emergency room nurse started talking about Steve having feeling in his toes.

“At first, it was scary, but could have been worse,” Elizabeth said in a telephone interview from Sacramento. “Then the emergency nurse called. Nobody said anything about him not feeling his toes before. I thought maybe he broke his legs.”

Things became much more clear when she arrived at the hospital and saw her husband.

“He said ‘I think I broke my back and I may not be able to walk again,’” she said. “I was terrified. We have a little one. What is going to happen?”

Steve was traveling down Cantelow Road near Pleasants Valley in rural north Vacaville when he got going too fast. It’s unclear exactly what happened, but he hit a tree while going more than 30 mph.

The father and husband faced a five-hour surgery to combat a burst fracture of his T10 vertebrae, 14 broken ribs, a fracture with tearing to a vertebrae and ligaments in his neck. He also had a bruise and collapsing in his right lung, Elizabeth said. There was also a nick to one of his arteries from a broken rib.

As bad as all that sounds, Elizabeth said he would have died on the road if it wasn’t for another rider who came upon him and called an ambulance. That woman has not been found. Elizabeth, Steve and their family want to thank her for the gesture.

It is still unknown how much of a recovery Steve will make or if he will walk, but wiggling toes on his left foot last week was enough to celebrate.

“The whole ICU staff was crying. It’s remarkable what he could do in two days,” she said. “All in all, it looks like it’s getting better every day. I’ve had lots of people rallying behind us. It gives me hope.”

Besides the family and friends that have gathered, more than $1,300 has been donated. Elizabeth said a lot of that has come from strangers and will help toward paying medical bills. Steve is looking at two to three weeks of intense rehab of six to eight hours a day. He will then need at least six months of rehabilitation.

“People that I don’t even know have been tracking me down and donating,” she said. “He’s always been the one to make me stay positive. I’m staying as strong as I can. The family has pulled together. It makes you value things that you lose appreciation for.”

The website detailing the incident and to donate is https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/2OXZc.

Reach Danny Bernardini at 427-6935 or [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/dbernardinidr.

Danny Bernardini

Danny Bernardini

Danny is a newspaper man born and raised in Vacaville. He attended Chico State University and has written for the Enterprise Record and the Reporter. Covers the City of Fairfield, education and crime. A's, Warriors and Saints fan. Listener of vinyl, frequent visitor to the East Bay. Registered "decline to state" voter. Loves a good steak.

Discussion | 4 comments

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  • Elizabeth RoehrsDecember 03, 2012 - 11:12 am

    I want to take a moment to thank each and everyone of you for your love and support. As most of you know my husband was involved in a serious cycling accident on Sunday. Many of you have reached out expressing your condolences, prayers and well wishes. There has been a huge out pour of support and compassion for our family and for that I am so incredibly thankful. Before this event, I thought my life was pretty perfect, and I had everything figured out. Sunday morning I went to my sisters house to hang Christmas lights. The kids were playing in the background and my mom and I were talking about my desire to start training for my first marathon. Moments later I received the phone call that would change my life forever. Steve does a solo ride every Sunday morning. That morning his alarm went off and he dozed right trough (a moment I would grow to appreciate). I encouraged him to go out and ride even though he had gotten up later then planned. I kissed him goodbye, said a quick little "love ya" and away he went. After repeating two hill climbs up Cantelow Rd. (http://www.everytrail.com/view_trip.php?trip_id=112271) Steve made his final climb and began his decent. After reaching 38 miles an hour at the end of the decent a sharp turn came up quick (a turn he had journey'd many mornings before). After realizing he was traveling too quickly he grabbed the breaks and began to slide. Steve lost control of his bike which sent him careening off the rode. Steve flew back first off his bike into a tree. Since Steve had left late that morning there were other cyclist on the road. A woman who had been descending a few minutes behind him found Steve and dialed 911. Had he left at his usual ride time, he would have died on the side of the road that morning. I received a call from the Fire Captain of Fairfield who stated Steve "had taken a spill" on his bike and broke his left leg. I hoped in my car and began frantically calling family to make them aware of the accident. After beginning the longest drive of my life, I received a call from the EMT in the ambulance stating the Steve was in route to a trauma center in Sacramento. Why was my husband headed to a trauma unit for a broken leg??? 15 minutes before arriving at the hospital I received a call from the Emergency Trauma room, Steve had arrived.... and he was beginning to get feeling back in his toes. Wait, what?? "OMG he broke both of his legs"... this is where my mind went. I walked into the trauma room and there laid the love of my life, lifeless. I walked up to him and put my hand on my head. His eyes welled up with tears and his lips parted "baby I'm so sorry.... I broke my back... I don't think I will walk again" And the earth cracked. Moments later a doctor came in a stated that Steve had broken 14 ribs, a vertebra in his neck, bruised and collapsed his right lung, and had a burst fracture of his T10 vertebra. Steve was headed to surgery and the prognosis... he would most likely never walk again. After a long 5 hour surgery Steve was the proud new owner of 2 rods and 8 screws that would now stabilize his spine. They were unable to save the T10 Vertebra and it was replaced with a bone graft. And hour after surgery he had regained feeling and minimal movement in his right leg. Steve would have chest tubes to keep the fluid and blood from causing internal complications to his lungs and breathing treatments to warn off pneumonia. We had a long road ahead of us. As the next three days crawled by we wondered if the motor function would ever come back to the left leg. The days were full of tests, x-rays, labs, MRI's and very little sleep. Steve fought a fever every night and they had a hard time managing the pain. Day Three... Day Three was magical. The day went great, minimal pain, no fever and new sense of strength. My husband never stops fighting. "babe... babe.. I think I'm moving my foot....will you look?" With little enthusiasm I walked to the end of the bed... and then suddenly a wiggle. Oh my GOD... he moved his left leg foot. A new sense of hope took over me. (http://imgur.com/a/4k87L) Over the past 4 days my life has been changed! Rehab predicts 1-6 months before he is rehabilitated. Still unsure if he will walk, but life has a brightness now. A brightness I never knew it could have. God has blessed me with a new understanding of love. I owe it all to you, those of you who have rallied around my family. The prayer, well wishes and donations are what have kept us focused on the road to recovery instead of focusing on survival. I feel as though saying thank you doesn't do this feeling of thanks justice. So I leave you with this, a promise, to never stop fighting, to always pay it forward and never loose sight of why we live. Live for each other, live in the moment and cherish each breath you take, because in the blink of an eye.....it can be flipped upside down. With Love, Elizabeth "Liz" Roehrs [email protected] For those who have asked how to donate to the family or how to spread Steve's story here is a link you can follow and post on Facebook/newsletters/blogs http://fnd.us/c/2OXZc. I want to spread the word and hopefully people with stop and take a moment to cherish the small things.

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  • Christine in FFDecember 03, 2012 - 6:43 pm

    Very well written. I pray for your husbands recovery. He couldn't be in better hands than where he is now!!! My mother had similar injuries in an accident. After 2 rods with lots of screws in her back and 1 month at UC Davis, she was improving. She also had other injuries besides the broken back. It took lots of time, patience and work. The day she didn't have to wear 'the turtle shell' anymore, 4 months later, was a milestone for us all! You guys too, will be there one day soon.

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  • Christine in FFDecember 03, 2012 - 6:48 pm

    I can't seem to get the link to work~ is there another way?

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  • Elizabeth RoehrsDecember 03, 2012 - 6:59 pm

    Hi Christine, Thank you so much for sharing your story with me. It gives me hope for our future and getting him rehabilitated. Try this link, https://fundrazr.com/campaigns/2OXZc, it may work better. I hope you have a very blessed night. Thank you for the positive thoughts and outreach to our family.

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