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Firefighter critical after ATV hits deer

A Depauw man remains in critical condition after a deer ran in front of his ATV Friday morning while he was on his way to work.
Trevor Whittaker, 33, was riding his new ATV to Van Winkle Tire Service in Ramsey, where he has worked for several years when he crashed near the intersection of Mount Tabor and John Smith Road north of Depauw, according to Indiana Conservation Officer Jim Hash.
He sustained several broken ribs, a broken collarbone and a bruised spleen in addition to a serious head injury, Hash said. Following at least two surgeries in the early hours of being admitted to the hospital, Whittaker was placed in a medically-induced coma, he said.
Whittaker, who has been a member of the Ramsey Volunteer Fire Dept. since April 1996 and holds the rank of major, was found unconscious in the road by a school bus driver for the North Harrison Community School Corp. at about 7:40.
The bus driver, Nancy Adams, followed school procedures and contacted Lance Richards, the school corporation’s transportation director, via her two-way radio, Richards said.
‘She did a great job,’ he said of Adams. ‘She crested a hill, saw the four-wheeler in the road and notified the school first.’
Richards made the initial call to 911 before Adams was instructed to use her cell phone to call Harrison County Dispatch so her exact location could be determined along the curvy, winding road.
The first emergency responder on the scene was Steve Whittaker, the victim’s father, who is also a major with the Ramsey VFD.
‘I’ll never forget Steve Whittaker grabbing a hold of me (after arriving on the scene) and saying, ‘It’s Trevor’,’ Ned Wiseman, the department’s chief, said Monday.
The younger Whittaker was traveling east on Mount Tabor Road when a buck, which died at the scene, entered the roadway and Whittaker’s ATV collided with it. Hash said Whittaker was thrown from the vehicle as it rolled several times.
Whittaker was airlifted by Air Methods to University Hospital in Louisville, where he remained in the Intensive Care Unit as of yesterday (Tuesday).
The helicopter service, which opened a base at Harrison County Hospital in Corydon about a month ago, provided a quick response time, which helped, Hash said.
‘It arrived almost simultaneously by the time we started the investigation,’ he said.
Also assisting at the scene were members of the Milltown Volunteer Fire Dept., Harrison County Sheriff’s Dept. and Harrison County Hospital Emergency Medical Services.
Hash said Whittaker was not wearing a helmet or any other safety equipment.
‘We strongly encourage riders to always wear a helmet and necessary safety equipment when operating an ATV,’ he said. ‘Riders should also remember that ATVs are designed for off-road use and are not designed to be operated on a hard surface roadway.’
Whittaker’s ATV, which he had gotten about two weeks prior to the crash, was taken to S&S Power Sports in Clarksville for an inspection. Hash said Monday that everything appeared to be functioning properly on the ATV.
Wiseman, who has been at the hospital each day since the crash to check on Whittaker, said it’s now ‘a waiting game.’
‘It’s been a big hit to the fire department,’ he said. ‘We’re all praying for him and hoping for a good recovery.’
Wiseman said Monday he was planning to contact a chaplain later in the day to have available to talk with firefighters.
‘I’ve been getting a lot of phone calls,’ Wiseman said, ‘even some from those who didn’t make the run.’
Three days prior to Whittaker’s crash, members of the Ramsey Volunteer Fire Dept. responded to a single-vehicle crash claimed the life of a 17-year-old North Harrison High School senior.
‘We’ve been hit so hard in the community’ the past week, he said.
Fundraisers planned for Whittaker
Members of the community are finding ways to help Trevor Whittaker and his family after the 33-year-old Depauw man was critically injured Friday when his ATV collided with a deer.
‘We want to help the family with immediate expenses and their medical expenses,’ Randy Fessel, a firefighter with the Harrison Township Volunteer Fire Dept., said.
Whittaker and his wife, the former Lynn Kellum, have two children.
Fessel is organizing roadblocks for Saturday from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. with all proceeds going to the Whittakers. Roadblocks will be set up at the intersection of state roads 135 and 64 in New Salisbury and the intersection of S.R. 135 and Landmark Avenue in Corydon. Additional roadblocks may be set up, depending on the number of volunteers secured.
Anyone wishing to help in the Corydon area should call Fessel at 734-6318 to schedule a time to volunteer. Anyone available to help in New Salisbury is asked to call Jo Ann Spieth-Saylor at 267-4814. During the hours of the roadblock, Fessel will be at the Harrison Township firehouse in Corydon and Spieth-Saylor will be at Ramsey’s firehouse in New Salisbury to schedule last-minute volunteers, distribute collection buckets and secure donations.
On Sunday, Sept. 16, there will be an all-you-can-eat breakfast (pancakes, sausage and eggs) from 8 a.m. to noon at St. Bernard Catholic Church in Frenchtown. A free-will donation will be accepted.
An account has been established at First Harrison Bank to accept donations for Whittaker. Indicate on the memo line ‘Trevor Whittaker fund.’

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