By Austin Prickett, Staff Writer
Enid News and Eagle
A full crowd was on hand Friday morning at Chisholm High School as Tyler Zander recalled Aug. 4, 2011 — a day that changed his life and that of another teen.
Zander and Bryce Gannon both lost legs in a grain auger accident that day while working for Zaloudek Grain Co. in Kremlin.
He presented his story and pictures to students, family and friends.
Zander began the presentation by saying everyone seems to get the wrong idea about the accident.
“The lessons I have learned and the opportunities I have gained are so much more than a leg to me,” Zander said.
He said he remembers hearing Gannon yell out as he went into the auger, and after yelling to a co-worker to flip the emergency shut-off switch, Zander decided to help Gannon.
“I just couldn’t stand there and watch,” Zander said.
He then straddled the auger and began helping Gannon. Zander said he must have slipped in, because he soon felt himself pulled into the auger, too.
The machinery was stopped, and paramedics and emergency responders were called in to the scene to extract the teens. Zander was stuck in the auger for an hour and 20 minutes.
He said remembers seeing the bad expressions on the faces of emergency responders.
“That’s when I got calm,” Zander said. “I wasn’t worried. I kept thinking that I should be more worried.”
As the emergency responders freed him, Zander described almost passing out from the pain.
He was flown to OU Medical Center in Oklahoma City and given a 50/50 chance of surviving the accident. Zander suffered a split pelvis, multiple infections and a tear in his bladder.
“My trauma surgeon told me my split pelvis was the worst he had ever seen,” Zander said.
Though Zander said he felt hopeless at times, he stuck to a motto he heard from a fellow amputee: One more thing, one more time.
“I was told I would be in the hospital for a year, but after two and a half months, I came home,” he said.
Zander, who had been told he would be in a wheelchair for an extended period of time, is walking with the aid of crutches.
“It was a reawakening at 17 years old. I realized I wasn’t in control of everything,” Zander said.
One of the things he takes the most joy from is meeting with fellow amputees and helping them with their problems.
“If this didn’t happen, I would have been someone who found happiness in the wrong things,” Zander said.
Prior to the presentation, the crowd sang to Zander in celebration of his 18th birthday, which was Friday.
Zander ended the presentation on an upbeat note.
“It’s not what you see,” he said, “it’s how you see it.”