Still, Baker suffered critical injuries. All the ribs on his left side were fractured, and his upper left arm was fractured in two places. He has a spinal cord contusion (bruise) caused by a partial dislocation of the vertebrae in his lower neck, …
Helmet a lifesaver in crash into treesThe good news is that Bill Baker, 77, was wearing a helmet while skiing Thursday on Red Lodge Mountain.Baker, president of the Powell Rotary Club, sustained crushing chest and neck injuries when he fell and crashed into trees. He was airlifted to St. Vincent Hospital in Billings, where he remains in the surgical intensive care unit, awaiting spinal cord surgery.“Things absolutely would be different if he hadn't been wearing a helmet,” said his wife, Sharon, who was skiing with him. “He wears a helmet because he has grandchildren, and he wants them to know that it is the right thing to do.”
Still, Baker suffered critical injuries. All the ribs on his left side were fractured, and his upper left arm was fractured in two places. He has a spinal cord contusion (bruise) caused by a partial dislocation of the vertebrae in his lower neck, and he suffered severe, bruising trauma to his lungs, heart and internal organs.
Baker underwent emergency surgery at St. Vincent Thursday to remove his spleen and to begin to stabilize his condition.
Dr. Nick Morris of Powell, who has been in Billings with the Bakers since soon after the Powell man's transport, said Baker “was critically, critically ill for 36 hours. He only stabilized Sunday.”
Baker is heavily sedated and remains on a ventilator as he awaits surgery, probably Wednesday.
“They are waiting until he is further stabilized,” Morris said. “He has normal vitals, and his lungs are working well. He shows signs of improvement, but he is still a critically injured person.”
Baker faces two surgeries, one on his neck and the other on his left arm, with the neck surgery having priority. He has no feeling in his left leg.
The ski accident on Red Lodge Mountain happened as the Bakers were coming off the Upper Limited Run and starting down Lower Limited.
“There was a little ice, but Bill is an expert skier and formerly skied for the ski patrol,” said his wife, Sharon. “An accident is an accident.”
Cody High School ski team members and coaches were in the area setting the course for a ski meet. Though she didn't see her husband crash, Sharon Baker feared for the worst “when the ski team coaches shot over there” to find that he had hit the trees.
She said she is grateful to the Red Lodge Mountain ski patrol, the Cody ski team, Red Lodge EMTs, the St. Vincent Healthcare medical evacuation team “and all at St. Vincent and Powell.” Friends have been tremendously supportive, she said.