Nightmare in Saint Lucia: Princeton Fire Captain injured in zipline accident

by | Jun 6, 2019 | Latest

A dream vacation turned into a nightmare for a Princeton fire captain and his wife after suffering a traumatic injury while ziplining in Saint Lucia.

PFD Captain Steve Gammons and his wife Kristi were on a Caribbean cruise with PFD firefighter Jacob Stiltz and his wife Katy. Up until the day of the accident, the couples had been exploring the cruise ship and towns at various ports of call.

In Saint Lucia the Gammons and Stiltz families decided to try ziplining, but that’s when their trip went awry.

Steve was launching himself from a zipline platform when he caught his leg, causing it to bend completely backward, and the weight of his body went down the zipline, reported Kristi.

Steve ended up with an open compound fracture of his tibia and displaced fracture of his fibula.

Fortunately, with Kristi’s medical training as a full-time flight nurse, part-time work as an ICU nurse at Medical City McKinney and part-time work as a paramedic for American Medical Response, she and Jacob were able to immediately provide first aid to Steve.

The team worked to stop the bleeding, splinted the injury and wrapped it. Being in a country with less than stellar medical conditions, Kristi knew they had to return to the United States immediately but accomplishing such a feat was the question on everyone’s minds.

“Healthcare is very different over there. They just don’t have the resources that we have here,” Kristi said.

Complicating the matter was the lack of international coverage on their cell phones, leaving them to communicate using only the hotel’s WiFi once they got settled in Saint Lucia.

“Everyone back home had to make all of the arrangements for us. We had to set up our own medical evacuation, which could’ve never happened without the help of our friends, family and the community. They literally called everyone to get us home,” Kristi said.

Since Steve is a part-time EMT for AMR and Kristi works for them too, phone calls started going up the corporate ladder until they reached AMR’s parent company Global Medical Response CEO and President Randy Owen.

“They really stepped up,” Princeton Assistant Fire Chief Michael Stiltz said. “Essentially the president told them that he wanted Gammons home yesterday.” Michael is the father of Jacob Stiltz.

Due to the communication challenges, at one point there were three different flight teams ready to get Gammons reported Michael.

It typically takes 24 to 36 hours to secure an international flight through the state department, but in this instance, it took less than 12 hours. Even Senator John Cornyn reached out and offered his help to the firefighter and his family.

Steve did not receive pain medicine for his injury until the fixed wing medical aircraft landed in Saint Lucia Friday, May 31.

The couple flew from the island to Florida where they refueled before landing at McKinney National Airport. They were met by the McKinney Fire Department and Steve was transported to McKinney Medical Center.

Steve had surgery Saturday morning to clean out his injuries and will have an additional surgery this week.

“It was truly a nightmare, one of my biggest fears. We are so thankful and so blessed though for our family, friends and community,” Kristi said.

As word of Steve’s injury spread, an outpouring of support for the fire captain who has dedicated more than 15 years to the community of Princeton, was returned tenfold.

A GoFundMe account has been set up to provide funds for the family as Steve recovers from his injuries.

“Being a firefighter is Steve’s life. If this injury is not treated properly, it could mean that his career will be in jeopardy,” says information on his GoFundMe account.

More than $14,000 has been raised by 189 people in three days through the account.

To donate to the cause, go to www.gofundme.com/assist-steve-gammons.

The Professional Firefighters Association of Princeton is also accepting donations for the Gammons family. Donations can be dropped off at the Princeton Fire Station located at 510 Woody Drive.

 

By Wyndi Veigel • News Editor • [email protected]

For more stories like this subscribe in print or online.

0 Comments

Related News

Three keys to victory: Farmersville vs Van Alstyne

Three keys to victory: Farmersville vs Van Alstyne

Farmersville enters their final pre-district game on a two-game losing streak, losing to Ferris 49-38. Here are three keys to a Farmersville victory over Van Alstyne. Play more disciplined A lack of discipline was a big factor in the Farmersville loss to Ferris. Coach...

read more
Lady Farmers defeat Caddo Mills

Lady Farmers defeat Caddo Mills

Against the second best team in the district, the Lady Farmers defeated Caddo Mills in four sets: 15-25, 25-21, 25-15, 25-21. Thoughts from Coach Harold Davis: "I can't be any happier for my girls right now," Davis said. "They got dominated the first set, yet they...

read more
Governor announced additional agenda items

Governor announced additional agenda items

Gov. Greg Abbott announced additional agenda items to be added to the third called session, which began Monday, Sept. 20. The announcement came Sept. 22 after Abbott submitted a message to the Secretary of the Senate identifying the items. The first additional item is...

read more
Farmers lose to Ferris

Farmers lose to Ferris

After giving up three fourth-quarter touchdowns, the Farmers (2-2) weren’t able to do enough to win, losing to Ferris (3-1) 49-38. Key Play of the Game: Ferris picks off Gray in the fourth quarter. Farmersville trailed 28-17 midway through the third quarter before...

read more
Lady Farmers win district opener at Terrell

Lady Farmers win district opener at Terrell

In their district opener, the Lady Farmers had the opportunity to prove how special they are. Farmersville (25-1) had one of its best pre-district starts to any season. The Lady Farmers won 18 games in a row, including victories over 5A schools like Greenville and...

read more
Three keys to victory: Farmersville vs Ferris

Three keys to victory: Farmersville vs Ferris

After losing at  Krum, the Farmers hope to get back on track Friday, hosting Ferris. Here are three keys to a Farmersville victory over Ferris: Recapture the pass under Gray Farmersville faces a big offensive challenge against Ferris. Relying on their rushing...

read more
Farmers run in Canton

Farmers run in Canton

The Farmersville cross country team returned to action on Saturday, Sept. 11, running in Canton. As a team, the varsity Farmers finished seventh out of nine schools with 203 total points. Junior Mikey Klemiuk had the best finish, ending up 26th overall out of 70...

read more
Farmers fall on road against Krum

Farmers fall on road against Krum

After falling behind in the first quarter, the Farmers couldn’t find the end zone en route to a 48-15 road loss to Krum Key Play of the Game: Krum recovers fumble near endzone Near the end of the second quarter, Farmersville was driving in opposing territory, trailing...

read more
Remembering 9/11

Remembering 9/11

September 11, 2021 marks the 20th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. On September 11, 2001, 19 militants associated with the Islamic extremist group al Queda hijacked four airliners and carried out suicide attacks against targets in the United States. Two...

read more
Lady Farmers win road matchups

Lady Farmers win road matchups

With one week left until district play, the Lady Farmers have established themselves as a top-tier program. Through the first 24 games, Farmersville has one of its best starts to any season. Since losing to Royse City in the first tournament of the year, the Lady...

read more