My name is Jamie Switzer, and this is my story. I’ve hunted deer all my life and was practically raised in a treestand. I’ve raised my 20-year-old son, Gavin, and 18-year-old daughter, Gracyn, to enjoy the outdoors as well. Both Gavin and Gracyn are successful bowhunters and enjoy hunting deer like I do.
On the afternoon of August 31st, 2018, after reviewing some Moultrie game camera pictures, Gavin and I set out to hang some Summit SwifTree steps and Summit rsxHawk stands. We unloaded our steps and stands and journeyed to the spot we felt we were going to have big-buck encounters this season. I soon discovered that I’d forgotten my Summit Safety Harness at home. I made the horrible decision to begin attaching the steps to the tree and hang the stand without the safety harness.
I had attached the first three sections and was working to attach the fourth section of the Swiftree steps to the tree. I was approximately 20 feet off the ground. I lost my grip on the tree and grabbed at the Swiftree step, which was not fastened to the tree yet. I fell to the ground with my face acting as landing gear against a fallen tree. I sat up on my rear end and realized I was bleeding because my shirt and hands were covered in blood. It didn’t take me long to realize my left radius bone was protruding out from the area of my elbow. I also felt sharp pain in my left rib cage area and in my left ankle. I tried to stand but could not place weight on my left ankle. I quickly asked Gavin to call for help.
As my son was calling 911, I realized help would be delayed because of our location in the wooded area. After providing the information to the 911 center, I asked Gavin to help me to the county road. I made attempts to walk myself but was jolted by the sound and feeling of a ‘popping’ sensation in my left ankle. The only way I would make it from the wooded area and to the county road was to use Gavin as a ‘crutch’.
Gavin and I arrived at the county road as deputies and rescue personnel began to arrive. I was transported to Terre Haute Regional Hospital where a level 2 trauma incident was activated. I received excellent care at Regional Hospital. I learned that I sustained a broken nose, broken ribs on the left side, and a broken and dislocated left elbow, along with tissue damage to my left ankle. I was not able to return to work because of injuries and began the process of doctor’s appointments and treatments. I am a deputy sheriff and rely on my salary for day-to-day living. Fortunately, I had enough banked-time to allow my pay to continue while under the doctor’s care. I am still in recovery.
If you’re reading this, I hope you remember to never sacrifice yourself and your safety to save a little time. You’re valuable to your family. You’re valuable to your friends. You’re worth the extra time it might take to grab a safety harness and safety equipment in order to be as safe as possible while hanging those stands. As we say in law enforcement, stay safe brothers and sisters…your life depends on it.