Auction to help injured skier
October 2, 2008 · Updated 9:42 AM
Friends of a North Bend man badly injured in a skiing accident are hosting an auction next month in Issaquah to help.
Steve Greenlaw, 31, was skiing Feb. 13 with friends at the Mission Ridge ski area in Wenatchee. On his second run of the day, Greenlaw skied into an unfamiliar area.
"We'd looked at it from the chair lift and kind of scoped out our line," Greenlaw said. "It was a new area. I had never skied there before."
What he thought was a widening of the trail into an open area was actually a drop off into a rocky field. Greenlaw went airborne and landed on his left hip, detaching his pelvis from his spine and causing internal hemorrhaging.
"I caught air off this natural slope," he said. "Normally that's no big deal, but what I didn't know was that there was a windblown section just below that. That's where I wrecked, on the rocks.
"They say people pass out with a severe injury like that," Greenlaw said. "I wish I did. Unfortunately, I was awake the whole time. It was terrible."
A friend, Dave Perkins of North Bend, got to him first and tried to stabilize Greenlaw while another skier went for help. After an agonizing toboggan ride down the hill, three ambulance transfers and an airplane ride, Greenlaw made it to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle within five hours.
Doctors were able to prevent paralysis. Harborview's surgical team performed a delicate Valentine's Day surgery, repairing the four breaks in his pelvis with a group of medical students observing.
"This was a relatively new procedure," said his mother, Jana Cross.
Greenlaw currently has five rods and a plate in his pelvis.
"He slammed it," said Cross, holding up a X-ray printout of her son's pelvis. "This was opened up like a bow."
Currently, Greenlaw is recovering working to maintain his flexibility and upper body strength while in a wheelchair. It may take a year before he can return to his job as an iron worker, and he may not then be able to return to full duty.
People who've been there for Greenlaw in his recovery include his girlfriend, Andrea Ribary, who helps Greenlaw go for drives and get out of the house, and his friends and fellow welders Joe Barnes and Tim Maret, who helped build a climbing bar system above his bed to rebuild his strength.
"My legs are super scrawny," Greenlaw said. "There's no muscle left, not being able to walk so long."
He hopes to be able to use crutches this month and start walking again by May.
Greenlaw is now being treated by his mother and stepfather at their in-home care center, High Woodlands Adult Family Home in Kirkland.
"This room was empty, and we were just that morning going to call our agency to tell them we had a vacancy when I got the call from Wenatchee Hospital," Cross said. "We realized, 'Well, this room is Steve's.'"
The arrangement allows Greenlaw to recover in a family environment, with ski trip photos on the walls and his dog Buddy wagging his tail just outside the sliding door.
"It's a plus for me," Greenlaw said. "Otherwise, I'd be in a nursing home."
"I've got my dog," he said. He built the shower and deck for his family a few years ago. Now, Steve himself is a beneficiary of his own handiwork.
"It's nice that I was involved in it, and now I'm here," he said. "I earned my keep."
For the first two weeks in the care center, Greenlaw had to be lifted out of bed with a hoist.
"Now he's really coming along," Cross said. At his last appointment, the doctor forbid any naps. The doctor's orders: "I want you up and going," Cross said.
Doctors and therapists have predicted that it'll take six months to a year for Greenlaw to be able go back to work. But his family thinks he'll be working sooner.
"They don't know him," Cross said. "He's very strong and self propelled. He always has been; 100 miles forward."
"He's determined, here," she said, pointing to her head.
"I want to ski again," said Greenlaw, who loves the thrill and the speed of the sport. "I've always been outdoors."
Now, "I have a lot more respect for going high speeds," he said. "I don't think I was taking things carelessly, I just didn't know the area."
"I plan on going back to the place I wrecked," he added. "I just want to see it, because it's the place where it all happened."
An auction, planned for May 5, will raise funds for Greenlaw's expenses and support while he is unable to work. The auction will be held at his family home, 23211 S.E. 53rd St., in Issaquah's Overdale Park neighborhood. There will also be a bake sale, quilt and jewelry sale, Tupperware, beauty products, live music, massage table, barbecue and games. A donation can has been set up at the North Bend Bar and Grill.
The goal is to earn $30,000 to offset medical bills and ensure Greenlaw doesn't lose his house or car.
Items up for bid include:
* Two $200 deluxe memberships to Mount Si Sports + Fitness
* Two pies from Frankie's Pizza
* Excavation, tree removal and landscape services
* Ski and bike equipment
* Restaurant gift certificates
* Holiday home decorating service
* And much more
To help or donate to the auction, call the Cross family at (425) 825-0810 or call (425) 445-5243.