Roofer Survives 34 Foot Fall Through Skylight

Article Date: May 1, 2014

Kelly Mischanko and medical staff

Alegent Creighton University Medical Center became the second hospital in the U.S. and the only one in the region to be recognized by the Joint Commission for its management of orthopedic trauma. Our Level I Trauma Center offers comprehensive care to all who suffer trauma – from the moment the critically-injured patient is rushed into a trauma bay at CUMC to the days of rehabilitation and the months after.

Kelly Mischanko's son posted on his Facebook page: "If you had 'witness a miracle' on your bucket list, you can cross it off now!"

The 45-year-old roofer fell through a skylight onto a concrete floor 34 feet below. He survived.

Mischanko was working on a corrugated metal roof in Council Bluffs. The industrial building had two-by-four foot pieces of fiberglass that he'd been sidestepping. "But then I stepped back," he said. "I forgot they were there!" The material gave way and he slammed onto the concrete floor below.

"My partner who was working with me didn't expect to see me alive," Mischanko said. "But then he heard me grunting."

The trauma team at Alegent Creighton University Medical Center was activated and Life Net rushed him to the Level I Trauma Center. "I got to have a helicopter ride and I don't even remember it!" Mischanko laughed. His injuries however were nothing to laugh at. He suffered a lacerated liver and spleen, a collapsed lung, several rib fractures — and more.

"The trauma team here did a great job," said Karl Bergmann, M.D., an orthopedic trauma surgeon. "The trauma team had him stabilized before I came in."

Mischanko's injuries were typical of a fall, Dr. Bergmann said. They can include finger, wrist, ankle, foot, leg and knee fractures, lumbar spine (lower back, where the spine curves inward) and pelvic injuries, head injuries and spinal cord injuries. "Nine out of 10 patients won't come in looking as good as he did. He's very lucky for falling 30-plus feet," he said. "There are a lot of variables in surviving. This kind of fall can be fatal. It becomes life-threatening anytime the organs in the abdomen are hurt."

Dr. Bergmann said Mischanko had a great attitude and worked hard to recover. Longterm he shouldn't have any problems, except for some limited motion in his wrist.

A week after he was admitted at CUMC, Mischanko headed home, where he'll be doing occupational and physical therapy. "Everybody marvelled at the speed of my recovery," he said. "The doctors and nurses were all amazing. They actually liked to care for their patients. They answered all my questions."

He said he's been living in "a cloud of gratitude" since his discharge. "For the first time in my life, I feel two hair-raising things," he said. "One — that God loves me. And two — I felt worthy of His love. It's given me urgency. I want to share God's grace and God's love."

He discussed his feelings at the 12 Step meetings that he attends, saying it's his "responsibility" to share with others. He's rebuilding a relationship with the daughter he hadn't seen in 16 years. And he intends to be back up on the roof in a few months. "I'll just pay attention in the future," he said with a big smile. "God wants me to do something with this. I just don't know God's plan for me yet."

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Related Links
Level I Trauma Center

Alegent Creighton University Medical Center

Karl Bergmann, M.D.