Statement of Patrick Parker
June 23, 2004
My name is Patrick Parker and I live in Childress, Texas. I wanted to tell you a little about what happened to me on the morning of August 29, 2001, and tell you how important it is that lawmakers in Washington hear my story.
It’s hard to describe how my life changed in an instant that day when rescuers cut me out of my truck with the jaws of life as I was hanging upside down in the cab. I was on my way to work for a utility company where I had worked for 15 years. I was in the new company vehicle I had been assigned – a 2001 Superduty F250 Supercab pickup truck. It was still dark on Highway 287 on the way to Wichita Falls.
Suddenly, a deer was in the road in front of me and I swerved to avoid it. As I was correcting the truck, I struck a second deer and lost control. The truck rolled over and the roof of the cab crushed in on top of me. I didn’t know it at the time, but my spinal cord was nearly severed when my neck was broken. At the age of 37, I was rendered a quadriplegic.
With my wife’s help, it takes me about three hours every morning to get up, eat breakfast, take a shower and get dressed. The chronic nerve pain in my legs feels like skin being ripped off – almost like I’m in a microwave oven.
Although I fight daily to regain whatever function I can with aggressive physical therapy and electrical stimulation, there has been little improvement. I must continue my efforts as this is what it takes to keep my muscles from atrophying, my bones from becoming brittle, and to avoid getting pressure sores. It’s an ongoing battle that never ends, but I fight every day, hoping and praying for a breakthrough in stem cell research for spinal cord injury within our lifetime.
I have to live with the consequences of a government roof strength standard that is way too low. It’s time for citizens like us to be heard and for Congress to enact a law that forces auto manufacturers to build vehicles that are safer, stronger and will increase the chances of people walking away from an accident.