John Arendt

First post: Nov 13, 2017 Latest post: Nov 9, 2022
Written by: Patrick Arendt

On November 8th 2017 at 10:00 am in the morning, John Arendt, as he is known by his more formal friends, Jack as he known by his family, and Jack-John and JJ as he is known by his friends who are confused, was traveling north on Highway 34 heading to Granite Peak in his Toyota Corolla. An oncoming distracted driver in an SUV was reaching for something in his car causing him to veer into Jack’s lane. There was no time for either party to brake. This caused a head on collision according to law enforcement. The collision occurred at highway speed. The effect was devastating.

The motor compartment of Jack’s vehicle was twisted like a dish rag. The passenger compartment maintained structural integrity. Jack’s decision to invest in a new car was one of many decisions he has made that saved his life. He suffered no crush injuries, nor any penetrative injuries. Thank you, Toyota and your engineers.  Another decision Jack made that saved his life was using his seat belt. The extreme energy of the impact would have hurdled him out of the car and Jack would have been found lying dead on the street. Jack suffered no bruising from the seat belt restraint except for a small contusion near his hip where the seatbelt attached. Thank you, Jack for choosing to use your seat belt. The air bags deployed as designed. The seat and headrest did their part in protecting him as well. Jack suffered relatively minor facial injuries and did not suffer lethal traumatic brain hemorrhages to the front and back of his head because the safety systems worked as designed. Thank you, Toyota.

Following Jack on Highway 34 was a physician from Aspirus and his two young daughters. When he arrived on the scene he stopped, cared for and stayed with an unconscious Jack until he was flown to the hospital. He is truly a good Samaritan. After the crash at approximately a combined speed of 130 mph, this physician was able to open the car door without tools and care and comfort Jack. Thank you, Toyota and thank you Doctor. 

The team of law enforcement and emergency crews responded quickly, stabilized Jack, and prepared him for an air evacuation. The years of training, dedication and devotion to their profession saved Jack. Jack was transported to the hospital at the Marshfield Clinic Medical Center  in Marshfield, WI where a team of physicians treated and stabilized Jack, allowing him to survive. Jack lives in a community of volunteers and professionals that have invested their lives and treasure to helping others. We are proud and grateful to be able to thank you.

A long time ago Jack decided that he might enjoy jumping things on skis. First frontwards. Then backwards. Along came upside down, followed by around and around. Finally, he did all these things together. I say this now because he didn’t always make it without falling. He would pick himself up and do it over and over and over again. He is strong willed, and persistent. Some good friends of his grabbed him and said, “You know, you can do this on water too!” They taught Jack to waterski and once again how to jump going around and around and upside down. As the orthopedic bills mounted, we tried to dissuade him from his extreme activities. But the pleasure he derived from the sport and his compatriots overwhelmed reasonable caution.

Jack built a body to withstand trauma. Jack suffered no major trauma to his internal organs except a collapsed lung. He suffered no injuries to his back or neck. He suffered no injuries to his spinal cord. Thank you, Jack and all of his skiing friends who helped him create a body that survived an unsurvivable crash. The sheer force applied in the crash and the pressure wave should have killed him. Because of his friends, he survived.

The sheer force of the crash broke bones in all of his appendages in some fashion. But unlike humpty dumpty, he can be put back together again. Thank you Marshfield Clinic Medical Center and the manufacturer of titanium plates.

The force that passed through Jack’s brain during the crash may have caused catastrophic microscopic damage to Jack’s brain. But it may not have as well. At the time of this writing, Jack is in an induced coma, but his family is optimistic. Jack’s life has been riding on a teeter totter the last six days but he has survived because the medical team at the Marshfield Clinic Medical Center plays a wonderful game of teeter totter. Jack’s care continues to benefit from friends and family who have been extraordinary in extending their care, faith, grace and facility.