Instructor returns to UCC after surviving a car accident

John Granholm, an English instructor at UCC, returned to work this term after surviving a nearly fatal car accident last year just outside of Oakland, Oregon on Old Pioneer Road April 26.

“I was riding my motorcycle on that Sunday when I came around a blind curve,” said Granholm. “I was struck head-on because two cars were racing and one of them was in my lane.”

The head-on collision caused near-fatal injuries – his pelvis was broken, all three bones in his right arm were shattered and his left leg was severed. Thankfully, he retained no internal, spinal or brain injuries – he was wearing the proper safety equipment for riding that day. If he hadn’t been, his injuries would have been much worse.

The car that hit him stopped to check to see if he survived the wreck. They noticed his severed leg and used a belt as a make-shift tourniquet and tightened it around his leg to stop the bleeding and to stabilize him. The driver sped away, but one of the passengers, a 15 year-old boy, stayed behind until the paramedics showed up to ensure that he was going to be alright.

“I don’t remember anything about the accident,” said Granholm. “I only remember waking up in a hospital.”

Granholm was put into a medically induced coma for five days and endured more than 30 hours of surgery. After getting his pelvis realigned, his shattered arm reset with bolts and part of his leg amputated – removing the remaining damaged area, he was fitted with a prosthetic leg. He was put through seven months of inpatient therapy, then six weeks of physical therapy at a facility specializing in amputees in Vancouver, Washington. Once out of surgery, he had to re-learn how to walk. He went from using a wheel chair, to a walker, to crutches and now is using a cane. Currently, while teaching part-time, he has physical therapy three days a week.

Granholm received tremendous support from his faculty and students. Some have helped him to his classes and assisted in transporting his things to his class equipment. He is very thankful for the fantastic support that he has received. He is also thankful for having health insurance, which covered $400,000 in medical expenses.

“When things happen in life, you often wonder why they happen,” said Granholm. “I am very fortunate that things turned out the way they did.” Granholm has been teaching for more than 30 years.

The Mainstream is a student publication of Umpqua Community College.