By Emily Olsen, July 13, 2022, Sanpete Messenger
Sanpete County, Utah
SPRING CITY — After only four months, a rancher who lost his right arm has made remarkable progress after a terrible farm accident.
Mike Black, deputy treasurer for Spring City municipal government, sheep herder and retired teacher, is able to walk, drive and return to work.
“He is a farmer who was raised by farmers,” said daughter Brittany Hooser, also a resident of Spring City. Despite his incredible progress, “It’s not going as fast as he would like,” she said. “… Physical therapy is a long process.”
Recently Black drove his sheep to their summer pasture.
“We wouldn’t let him get on a horse,” Hooser chuckled, so he drove a side-by-side ATV instead. “But he directed everything.”
The accident occurred March 8, crushing three of Black’s vertebrae, cracking 11 of his ribs, and breaking his femur, or upper leg bone, just below his hip. Without explanation through, his spinal column and head were not damaged.
Despite multiple efforts to be cleared for take-off, an Intermountain Life Flight helicopter was unable to transport him the day of the accident because of a developing snowstorm.
Because his property is located up a canyon, Sanpete Search and Rescue was called to get him into an ambulance. From Sanpete Valley Hospital in Mt. Pleasant, an ambulance took him to Central Valley Medical in Nephi, and from their he was able to be flown to Intermountain Medical Center in Murray.
“He was the most critical patient in Utah for two and a half weeks,” said his wife Susan Black.
His injuries required multiple surgeries that included amputating his right arm, fusing seven of his vertebrae together, and stabilizing his femur and hip with one rod and two pins.
Family members say it is amazing he is alive. Doctors estimated his initial recovery would take six weeks, so neighbors and friends and thrilled to see him out about so early.
Black stayed at the hospital in Murray for two months. For the first few weeks, his doctors kept him sedated, as they needed to keep his back completely still will his bones healed.
“He was released on Mother’s Day,” Hooser said. “But even now, we can’t let him laugh.” Giggles cause too much pain, she explained.
Hooser wishes to thank everyone who has helped Black and their family over the last five months. “We are super grateful.”
Residents of Spring City, the county and throughout Utah have graciously offered to help them in any way they could. People have helped with farm work and housework.
“Small-town farmers know other small-town farmers, and people mostly learned by word of mouth. But not just farmers — people all across town,” Hooser explained.
Fundraisers have been held and continue to be held every few weeks to help with medical expenses. Although Black has medical insurance, it did not cover all of the unique treatments that were required for his severe injuries.
In his role as the deputy treasurer for Spring City, Black oversees maintenance of the cemetery, animal licensing, city building reservations and rentals, grants and projects, and he also serves as a notary. He has also served as a board member of the Horseshoe Irrigation Company for 20-plus years.
Black has three daughters and five grandchildren who all live in Sanpete County.
On May 21, Spring City supporters held a Dutch oven cook-off and bake sale for him. On May 28 over Memorial Day weekend, a Miles4Mike 5K race was held, accompanied by a booth selling baked goods and crafts.
On June 6, Spring City Elementary School held a pancake breakfast fundraiser.
Hooser explained that shortly after the accident, all the students at the school had signed a poster for him that he kept on the wall in his room at the hospital during his recovery. A website has also been created for his former students to share memories of him as their teacher.
“That’s why we wish to express our gratitude,” Hooser said.
Raffles continue at Lazy-D Pawn in Centerfield and Big Pine Sports in Fairview for multiple guns.
Spring City’s 24th of July celebration will include a cornhole tournament fundraiser on Saturday, July 23. A registration form to enter the tourney may be found at http://www.springcityutah.org/pioneer-day.