Editor’s Note: 34 year old Danny Pollock from Greencastle, Indiana, was born into a racing family. His grandfather and his dad were both racecar drivers and mechanics. Like others in his family, Pollock always dreamed of having a racecar that would finish first as the checkered flag was waving. As a child, he was always involved in racing with speed and courage. Then when life dealt him an unbelievable blow, and he injured his T5 and T6, resulting in his becoming a paraplegic, he refused to give up his dream of the checkered flag and today drives a Class 410 non-wing Sprint car. Part 1 of a 5 part series.
When I was 23 years old, I was riding ATVs with my friends on April 22, 2001. One of my friends was really beaten up from racing ATVs over a motocross track that included jumps and many of the elements you see in motocross racing. Since he loved to race ATVs on tracks, he built a training track that went through the woods and had some really exciting jumps. It was located on property his family owned. I hadn’t ridden an ATV in about a year or so, but when I started riding that course, I enjoyed it. I’d gone over all the jumps and made them successfully, except one. While we were riding that day, I went over a small jump, and my foot slipped off the foot peg on the ATV. The back tire of the ATV ran over my foot, so I felt like I was done for the day.
Danny Pollock- A passionate racecar driver.
Although I didn’t fall all the way off, I knew I had hurt my foot after the wheel had run over it. After sitting around for a while, my foot began to feel better. Everybody who was riding that day had seen the big jump, but no one had tried it yet. No one ever had made it. This track was dirt. There was enough room to park a pickup truck between the take off point and the landing area of this jump – a fairly large gap where the rider and the four wheeler were in mid air.
Nobody would go over the jump, so I said, “Let me go over two or three smaller jumps, and then I’ll try the big jump.” Since my foot was already hurt, I knew I didn’t want to land short of the landing pad on the big jump and hit the wall. When I got ready to attack the big jump, I took off and gave the ATV a lot of gas to be sure I made the jump. However, I overshot the landing point. As the ATV was flying toward the ground, I knew I was about to feel a lot of pain. When the ATV landed, it landed nose down, and the front bumper hit the ground first. Due to the forward force of me on the ATV, when I hit the ground, the ATV moved me forward over the handlebars, and I hit the ground on my stomach. My friends told me later that when the ATV hit the ground and threw me, it did a flip in the air, and when it landed after the flip, once again it landed nose down.
The back bumper landed on my back, and I took all the force of that ATV as it came down to the ground. After it hit me, the ATV did another
Danny after the tragic accident.
flip over me. When it stopped, I was on the ground, and I remember hearing everyone screaming and hollering as they ran to me. When they reached me, they asked if I was ok. I said, “Yeah, give me a minute to stay here, and figure out what’s happening.” I didn’t have any pain right away – I just had a tingling in my legs. My buddy asked if he should call an ambulance, and I explained that I’d just take a few minutes before getting up. I decided to give my buddy the key to my car that was in my pocket. However, when I started to move, I couldn’t. I saw that my arm and hand that I’d planned to use to get the key out of my pocket weren’t where they were supposed to be. That’s when I knew I had a broken arm. My friends called my dad and 911.
Once the ambulance and the emergency personnel finally arrived, they called for a lifeline helicopter, because we were so far back in the woods that they couldn’t get the ambulance to the site where I was injured. However, paramedics couldn’t get a helicopter to me because both choppers were out of state. Finally, the paramedics decided that the only way to get me out safely was to drive my Chevy S10 truck into the area where I was, put me on a backboard, tie me down, load me into the back of my truck and drive me out of the woods. Once out of the woods, they took me on the backboard out of the truck, put me in the ambulance and headed for the hospital. I knew I was hurt pretty bad when I couldn’t feel anything but the tingling in my legs. I knew my arm was broken but didn’t know what else might have been. I also felt like I had a truck sitting on my back.
I was having a problem breathing, because the strap on my helmet was pressing against my throat. While I was in the back of the ambulance, I really began to hurt. One of the things I remember about the ambulance ride was that as the driver was approaching an intersection, the light changed from green to yellow, and he slammed on the brakes. I started to slide forward, and the paramedic grabbed my arm to stabilize me. I gave him a few choice words, so he started screaming at the driver. The driver flipped on a siren, and we went on through the intersection.
Danny Pollock understood he wouldn't be able to walk, but that wasn't going to stop him.
When I got to the hospital, they finally took off my helmet. However, the medical personnel knew my injury was severe, so they sent me to Indianapolis Methodist, a major trauma center in Indianapolis, Indiana. I didn’t remember much about the ride to Indianapolis, and the first thing I remembered about being in the hospital was that there was a doctor trying to force a tube into my nose and down my throat. I was fighting him. Finally I understood that everyone was trying to help me, and I relaxed and let him do what he needed to do.
For the next couple of days, I was in sort of a fog. I didn’t sleep much in intensive care, and I had a fever and chills. One time I woke up, and my nurse had an IV bag that she was about to hang and spilt it all over me. I was so aggravated I started screaming so loudly that I woke up my family who was in the waiting room down the hall. The rest of my hospital stay was fuzzy, but I remember I was only there for about 2 weeks. I don’t remember whether my back was operated on the same day I came in or the second day I was there. I was pretty sure I’d been hurt badly, but I wasn’t sure how badly. They wanted my family to tell me how bad my injury was, and my dad finally told me that I had a spinal cord injury and probably wouldn’t be able to walk again. The injury had been on T5 and T6 in the thoracic region. When I found out I couldn’t walk, I was lost in a world of, “What do I do now?”
To learn more about Danny Pollock and his racing, go to www.dannypollock.com.
Next: Danny Pollock Says He Was Born a Racer
About the Author: For the last 12 years, John E. Phillips of Vestavia, Alabama, has been a professional blogger for major companies, corporations and tourism associations throughout the nation. During his 24 years as Outdoor Editor for “The Birmingham Post-Herald” newspaper, he published more than 7,000 newspaper columns and sold more than 100,000 of his photos to newspapers, magazines and internet sites. He also hosted a radio show that was syndicated at 27 radio stations; created, wrote and sold a syndicated newspaper column that ran in 38 newspapers for more than a decade; and wrote and sold more than 30 books. Learn more at http://www.nighthawkpublications.com