By AMANDA KIMBLE
ERATH COUNTY (March 30, 2017) – Looking back on an accident last week, Erath County Constable Jason Schipper has no regrets.
“I’m lucky to be alive,” Schipper said, speaking to The Flash from his home on Friday. “I have no complaints, I’m lucky to be alive and to be able to walk. If I have to live the rest of my life with pain, I can deal with that.”
The constable, who was sworn into office in January after a long career in local law enforcement, suffered a shattered L1 vertebra and is on medical leave. He expects to remain on leave for a couple of months before being cleared for light duty.
Still, Schipper said given the possibilities, he will gladly follow doctors’ orders.
“I am lucky I’m not paralyzed,” he said recalling the accident that occurred south of Waco, near Marlin, at about 1 p.m. Friday, March 29
Schipper was traveling back home from a work-related continuing education event when he stopped to render aide to other motorists.
“I was coming from Huntsville and watched an accident between a car and semi-truck happen right in from of me,” he recalled. “I turned on my lights, moved my vehicle to the shoulder of the road and got out. I knew it was a recipe for a major pileup due to what was already poor visibility at that location and heavy rainfall at the time.”
With traffic stopped, Schipper got on his cell phone to call assistance.
“I went to the trunk of my car, got my reflective raincoat, called emergency dispatch and was on the phone with 9-1-1 watching oncoming traffic when I saw a car that I knew wouldn’t be able to stop,” he said. “I assumed it would plow into the cars in front of me, but, at the last second, the brakes locked up. The car veered to the inside lane, lost control and was coming straight at me.”
At that point, Schipper started running toward the grass media in attempt to escape the wreckage – car parts and debris – he expected to start flying through the air when the out-of-control vehicle struck others at the scene.
Instead, the car seemingly followed Schipper into the median, where it struck him, propelling his body through air and slamming him onto his back.
“I was running and it was coming right at me,” he said.
Schipper admits he was in pain, but also said he refused treatment at the scene. The pain was nothing new. He sustained an injury years earlier when he fell off of a ladder. At that time, he went to the emergency room and was told there was no breakage – only muscle damage – following an X-ray.
“The pain was the same,” Schipper said, adding he drove himself from the scene.
Back home in Erath County, Schipper went to the hospital and was subsequently flown by air ambulance to another facility when it was determined he had suffered spinal damage.
“When they did an MRI in Fort Worth, they found out that I had broken back in two places several years ago,” he said, adding he had lived with some pain since.
This time, doctors expect Schipper’s back will heal without the need for surgery. He has been fitted with a back brace and ordered to get plenty of rest.
Schipper was told even though his L1 vertebra was shattered, it didn’t move too much and there was little intrusion into the spinal canal.
“It’s just going to take some time to rehabilitate,” he said.
Meanwhile, the individual who struck Schipper was issued a citation for failure to control speed, and the constable is counting his blessings.
“To the best of my knowledge, nobody in the initial accident sustained any serious injury,” he said. “I think I ended up being the one who was hurt the worst, but I believe had I not turned my lights on and gotten the traffic to stop, there would have been a major pileup and others injured.”
While he continues to recuperate, Schipper said his family is grateful for the outpouring and support and concern from the community.
“We have been absolutely overwhelmed by the prayers and support,” he said.