Humans of Rocky: Branching Out to Cole Rich

Alex Orchard

More stories from Alex Orchard


Ella Ogletree

Cole Rich

Cole Rich is a student at Rocky Mountain High School with an interesting story to tell. When Rich was camping over the summer, he was hammocking with a couple of boys. They had to choose from some questionable trees to attach to, since there weren’t very many options where they went. Rich had gone to bed first and he was in the hammock in the middle.

After all had fallen asleep, one of the trees came crashing down on Rich’s leg, shattering his right femur bone, severing the femoral artery, and cracking his left femoral artery. While he was still in his sleeping bag, Rich’s friends picked him up and placed him on a nearby picnic table. They then carried to him the car and took him to the nearest hospital, which was 45 minutes away in McCall.

Rich said the adrenaline and the shock keep him from experiencing a lot of the pain. After driving for about 25 minutes, the pain started kicking in. He was feeling immense pain, but he continued to fight through it. Once they got to the hospital, they tried to take x-rays of his leg, but they couldn’t get much because they didn’t want to move his legs. He was then life-flighted to the St. Alphonsus hospital in Boise.

Once there, he immediately he went into surgery for eight hours. It took two hours for them to repair the bones and then seven hours to repair the femoral artery. Then two days later, Rich had another surgery that involved putting a titanium rod in his right leg and a plate and five screws in his left leg. The horrible timing caused him to end up spending his own 16th birthday on the operating table. It has been a long and hard eight weeks of being in a wheelchair at the beginning of the school year for Rich.

Rich said his life has changed dramatically, and that one of the worst parts is “getting to bed and forgetting your phone downstairs.” All of his friends have been a big help, willing to push him through the halls and helping him out where he needs it. After the multiple surgeries and a long period of recovery, so far, Rich is now in the final steps. He can put weight on both legs now and is starting to walk without the wheelchair.

Though it has been a long journey, Rich is now looking forward to spending this winter up in the snow with some friends, snowboarding down the slopes.