Last month, MADD featured Ohio mechanic and businessman Daniel Toops. Click here to read Toops’ story. On Nov. 28, 2013, Toops died in a drunk driving crash. Four other people were in the vehicle that night. Rick Thompson, a friend of Daniel’s, was one of them. Although Rick survived, the crash changed his life forever. This is his story.
What began as a night out drinking with friends ended with one man dead and one man fighting for his life. It also changed countless lives forever.
The night before Thanksgiving 2013, brothers Rick and David Thompson joined friends at a bar in Plain City, Ohio. Just before midnight, the group decided to drive to another bar in nearby Columbus. One friend offered to drive, saying he was OK to get behind the wheel. He wasn’t.
A few minutes later, the driver began speeding on the highway. Rick and David told him to slow down, but he refused. When the driver hit a railroad track at over 100 mph, he lost control. The truck hit a ditch, started flipping and ejected everyone but Rick.
“They called Rick’s a partial ejection”
Rick held onto the handle inside the truck with all he had as it flipped. He remembers thinking he was going to be cut in half. When the final flip broke his left hand, he lost his grip.
Meanwhile, the crash knocked David unconscious as he was thrown from the truck. A friend who had been following the group found him in a nearby field. He had seven broken ribs, a collapsed lung and a torn rotator cuff. He’d also fractured his T5 vertebra.
A third friend in the truck, Tiffany, suffered two broken collar bones.
Daniel “Danny” Toops died instantly.
The truck landed upsidedown on one of Rick’s legs, trapping him underneath. When first responders lifted the truck off of him, he began to bleed out. The paramedics said they expected him to die from blood loss.
He was care-flighted to OSU Medical Center, where the fight for his life began.
Surgeons told Rick’s mother, Lisa Lively, her son was cold and growing stiff when he arrived at the hospital. He’d lost a lot of blood from a severed artery in his right leg.
He’d also sustained a broken tibia in his left leg, a broken patella and a compound fracture of the femur in his right leg. Both feet and ankles were broken, his pelvis was fractured in two places and his left hand was broken in several places. There were internal injuries, too: a lacerated liver and a bruised heart. He endured a major infection in his right leg.
In all, Rick had 13 surgeries and spent three months in the hospital.
“Rick is a miracle,” said Lisa. “Well, all of them that survived the crash are. But Rick was a fighter from the day he was born. He was able to keep his legs and he is able to walk again. He does suffer from pain every day. And the memories of the accident visit him frequently in his dreams.”
“I am thankful to say my sons survived and my youngest kept his legs and is able to walk again,” Lisa said.
But she feels the crash has changed their lives forever. David is currently on Social Security Disability and has struggled to get his life back. He is doing better but that night will always be with them.
“My eyes are opened and it could happen to anyone,” Lisa said. “I almost lost my sons. My sons lost one of their best friends and the other friend went to prison for 14 years. Drinking for a laugh or two is not worth it. It changes you. It hurts people and it kills. Don’t let it happen to you or yours. Don’t drink and drive.”