'They’re all willing to pitch in, and that’s what I love about living in a small town'

PAXTON — Resting in his bed in the basement of the Poll family household, Dan Poll pulls out his cell phone and proudly shows off a photo of the 14-point buck he took in 2008. It was the largest the 45-year-old father of three has taken since he started hunting deer in Central Illinois and Wisconsin in 2006.

If he would have been able, Poll would have simply walked upstairs and shown an enquiring reporter the buck’s head mounted to a wall.

But it isn’t easy, or comfortable, for Poll to move these days — not after fracturing his pelvis in a work-related accident in Indianapolis late last month.

For now, and the foreseeable future, the former youth football, basketball and baseball coach is confined to his bed — or, at best, a wheelchair — as he begins what will undoubtedly be a long journey to recovery.

“My goal is to be ready for the hunting season — just as long as I can climb up a tree stand for hunting season, that’s what I want,” Poll said earlier this month.

The accident happened on Friday, April 22, when Poll’s job as the lead driver for Montgomery, Ill.-based Performance Food Service/Fox River Foods took him to Indianapolis to deliver some food products there.

“We were shorthanded, so we’ve been running over there to help out,” Poll explained.

Poll was standing by a loading dock as a company driver was backing up a semi-trailer to the dock. As the semi was backing up, a two-wheel cart was about to fall out of the semi, so Poll reached in and grabbed it. But as that happened, the semi kept coming.

The semi trapped Poll between the loading dock and the truck, breaking his pelvis.

“I was stuck in there for 45 seconds to a minute,” Poll said. “I was yelling and yelling.”

The driver did not realize, at first, what had happened.

“People hurried inside and they started yelling, and as soon as (the driver) opened the door, he heard us,” Poll said. “I heard a whole bunch of liquid in there (in my pelvic area) just kind of moving around. (After the truck was moved), I fell down. I was like, ‘Holy cow!’”

Poll was rushed to an Indianapolis hospital, where he had surgery the following day. According to Poll’s wife, Michelle, doctors said the truck “basically broke open” Poll’s pelvis. Poll said the surgery, which took 1 1/2 hours, involved doctors pulling his pelvis back together and holding it in place using a metal plate.

“They said I was real lucky,” Dan Poll said. “They said if it was a little bit more, I would have bled to death.”

“They said there was no rhyme or reason he should be here today,” added Michelle Poll. “(The doctors) said that most of the time, this is a tragedy, because you have so many blood vessels running down into your legs that when you break (your pelvis) open, it tears all of that, so you start to bleed. Most generally, (the doctors) said, a few things can happen: (1) you bleed out before the ambulance can even get to you; (2) if the ambulance can get you to the hospital, you usually are in such bad shape they can’t stop the bleeding before you die; or (3) you are paralyzed.

“So Danny got very lucky.

“They said that if it would have been a couple of inches higher up on his abdomen, it would have been a completely different story, but because he’s so tall (6-foot-3) and he went up on his toes, his pelvis took the brunt of it instead of his organs.

“If somebody was shorter, it would have crushed the whole thing.”

Poll will not be able to walk for eight weeks, doctors said, and it could be six months or longer before he is able to get back to work.

“And that ain’t saying I’ll be able to perform my job like I could — I don’t have no idea,” Dan Poll said.

Months of physical therapy are in store.

“They said there’s going to be a lot of pain involved in it,” Michelle Poll said.

A life-changing experience
Poll, currently unable to put any weight on his legs, is spending most of his time in bed watching television in the basement of the Poll home at 1135 E. Prospect St. in Paxton. Many friends and family members have been stopping by to pay him a visit, as well, which keeps him occupied.

Michelle Poll said she has been trying to keep her husband busy, so he’s not just staring at the TV all day. Never is he by himself, she said.

Michelle Poll said people are “shocked to hear” what happened, but yet they are surprised Dan Poll “looks so good” when they see him.

“They’re expecting to see the worst when they get here, and then they look at him and they’re like, ‘Dan, you look better than we thought you would,’” she said.

“When I came home from the hospital, I wasn’t looking good at all,” Dan Poll said.

“The first few days he just looked really sickly,” his wife added.

The accident has changed the lives of Dan and Michelle Poll, who have been married for 20 years, and their three kids, Matt, a senior at PBL High School; Cory, a junior; and Kyle, a freshman.

But the situation could have been worse.

“I can’t sleep well sometimes, and I’ll wake up in the middle of the night, kind of like in a sweat,” Dan Poll said. “I keep imagining what would have happened if (the driver of the semi) hadn’t stopped. ... Especially in the first week or so (following the accident), I’d get tears in my eyes just thinking about it — thinking about what could have happened.”

Dan Poll certainly feels lucky to be alive — and to be home.

At first, Michelle Poll was not sure her husband would be able to come home following surgery.

“When I got the phone call, I didn’t think it was as bad as what it was, and I didn’t know until I got there,” she said. “And then (the doctors) told me he wasn’t going to get to come home. I broke down, because we just don’t function without all of us here. And I thought, ‘God, if they send him somewhere else, how am I going to be with him every day, and be with the boys every day and running the house and working — how am I going to do all of that?’

“They were going to send him to a rehab facility, and I just couldn’t do that. And so I set my mind that if there was one ounce of hope that I could get him home, I was going to push as hard as I could.”

Community steps up to help
In order to see if Dan Poll could go home, physical therapists at the Indianapolis hospital had Dan Poll try to complete various mobility tests to see if he could move from a bed to a wheelchair using his arms, for example. Dan Poll aced those tests.

But therapists said the Polls would need a wheelchair ramp installed at their home so he could be transported in and out of the house. The Polls did not have such a ramp.

That’s when the Paxton community stepped up to help.

“Mark and Lee LeClair went above and beyond to help me organize getting that ramp,” Michelle Poll said. “I didn’t know how I was going to get one. I called (Lee LeClair) and asked her if she and Mark could come to my house and measure and tell me what I needed, because I was in Indianapolis. And then, I just put it on Facebook that I needed ideas (to find the right ramp).

“I don’t know how it all came about, but Tom Meents then got in touch with Mark LeClair and they had a discussion. And then, from what I’m gathering, Tom took a ramp and cut it in half and brought it in (to the Poll house) with some of his guys. And Mark and Lee came down and with everybody who was with them — I don’t even know who all was there — but they all came in and made sure we had the ramp.”

The ramp was put to use recently when Dan Poll went to his son Matt’s ICE Banquet at PBL High School.

“I love that people are looking over me,” Dan Poll said. “It makes me feel good that there’s people in town who are helping me out.”

That’s just how Paxton is.

“If somebody in our small town can help, they usually, generally offer it,” Michelle Poll said. “When you live in a small town, almost everybody knows you or knows somebody who knows you. They’re all willing to pitch in, and that’s what I love about living in a small town.

“I’ve lived here my whole life, and you always think, ‘God, I just can’t wait to go on a vacation and get away from all of this.’ But it’s always great to come back to this town, ya know? It’s moments like this that make you appreciate it. Because without that ramp, I mean, I wouldn’t have been able to bring him home.”

Since Dan Poll arrived back home, some friends have also set up some small fundraisers to help raise money for the Poll family. While Dan Poll is out of work, he is being paid workman’s comp totaling only about 66 percent of his salary. Michelle Poll, meanwhile, does embroidery work for a living but has had to scale back on her work due to the increased amount of attention she must give to her husband.

An account to assist the polls has also been set up at gofundme. com.

The Polls appreciate the support, but they aren’t asking for anything.

“They all feel like we need help, but Danny and I feel a little funny asking people for money,” Michelle Poll said. “They’re worried about us — and I’m worried, too — but it’s a little bit of a pride thing. It’s hard for us to accept it.”

Categories (3):News, Living, Other
Location (3):Local, Paxton, Ford County

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newstart028 wrote on July 11, 2016 at 4:07 am

Parrish was arrested March 31 following an investigation by Paxton police, according to Police Chief Bob Bane.192.168.l.l

nora283 wrote on February 28, 2017 at 7:02 am

It must be very difficult for him to spend all day in bed, unable to move around, but at least he is alive, things could have went a lot worse. To speed up recovery, he and his wife should speak with a specialist from the respite care santa rosa ca center. There must be a specialist, that can help him walk again and maybe attend the next hunting season.