“Showing out” on a racetrack in Kentucky landed Tripp Pullen in the hospital, but with dear friends from Marshall County by his side.
Pullen, owner of Midsouth Show Car LLC and Pro Rock Racing, suffered life altering injuries in a wreck Oct. 22 while at a racetrack near Louisville, Kentucky.
Pullen and Cash LeCroy, 13, of Guntersville, have been friends and race partners for many years.
“Cash has raced for me since he was six years old,” Pullen said.
“I was out there showing out on the track and over jumped a jump. I was out there trying to show Cash how to do things … or maybe not how to do things … when I miscalculated a table top jump.
“I was up around 20 feet in the air in my Polaris RZR side-by-side and came down hard on my butt.”
Pullen suffered broken ribs across his left side, several fractured, crushed or impacted vertebrae and spinal compression. His T10 sustained a compression fracture, T12 was broken in two and the L1 was shattered. He has rods and screws from the T12 to L3.
He was airlifted from the scene to a hospital in Louisville with what were initially thought to be completely paralyzing injuries.
“They didn’t think I would ever walk again,” he said.
“But the good Lord spared me … he didn’t let me be paralyzed.”
Pullen spent a week undergoing surgery and recovering in a Louisville Hospital before the LeCroy family travelled to Kentucky to bring him for intensive in-patient therapy at Rehab Select in Albertville. He now sports several screws and metal rods in his back.
“They picked me up in the camper we travel with and brought me to their home for the night,” Pullen said. “The next day, they moved me into Rehab Select and I started my therapy.”
Jackie LeCroy, Cash’s mother, said the choice to try to get Pullen into Rehab Select was an easy one.
“We knew the physical and occupational therapists, so it was a matter of making a call to see if they had an opening,” LeCroy said. “We knew all of them and didn’t know if he went somewhere else how much therapy he would be getting.
“The first part of rehab treatment is crucial. I guess he could have gone to Memphis for treatment or anywhere else. But here, it was so much more personal. He got great care.”
Patrick Roberts, rehab coordinator, said Pullen was expected to be in the rehab unit for up to a month, but was released Oct. 5.
“He came here able to walk with assistance of a walker, but still had some problems with lack on sensation in his legs causing him problems.
“I don’t want people to think we were able to cure him in a matter of a week, but he worked hard and was able to go home to live unassisted.”
Roberts said the nursing staff and therapists work hand in hand and in conjunction with doctors to provide patients with the best care possible.
“I’d put my staff against any in the country,” he said. “They all do a great job.”
LeCroy said Pullen is continuing outpatient therapy in Memphis, but still struggles with loss of feeling.
“His spinal doctor said it will be a long recovery,” she said. “He felt a lot of the injury was due to shock and that eventually all his feeling may return.”
The LeCroy family picked Pullen up Oct. 5 for a night of celebration at their Guntersville home. Pullen said the family planned a “full buffet spread,” including seafood, barbecue and much more.
“All my favorites, they said they’d have them there for me.”
Pullen said his fiancé, Sarah-Dale Montgomery, would take him from Guntersville back to his home in Como, Mississippi.
The couple has no immediate wedding plans, but Pullen said he believes the wedding will now come sooner rather than later.
“We’ve bought some property outside of Como and plan to build a home on that property,” Pullen said.
As he continues his recovery in Mississippi, Pullen thanked Jason and Gayla Robinett of MidAmerica Outdoors, and Joey Beck and the Pro Rock Racing staff for their hard work, support and prayers during and after his time in the hospital and rehab facility.
Pullen said he has never been severely injured, broken a bone, or suffered a serious illness in his life before this accident.
“I never went to the doctor … never had a broken bone,” he said. “I have a great fear of hospitals and all.
“But I would recommend Rehab Select to anyone. It’s been like a resort here, a vacation.
“I’ve gotten lots of therapy here and the therapists and nurses were wonderful. I’m very happy with my stay there.”
Both Pullen and LeCroy credit the first responders at the Kentucky racetrack for Pullen’s recovery.
“After the accident, he was flown out,” LeCroy said. “His doctors have bragged on the EMTs that got him stabilized within short amount of time. They said his pine was exposed. He was so close to being paralyzed.
“Things could have been so much worse. We are so thankful they were not.”
Cash and his family planned to spend leave Oct. 6 to travel to WinRock to participate in the last race of the season.
While his health wouldn’t allow him to attend, Pullen will be pulling for Cash from home.
“All of me really wants to be there,” Pullen said. “But with my back the way it is, and for my health right now, I just can’t be there yet.
“To all my friends racing, good luck. I’ll be rooting for you.”
The Oct. 6 race was the final one of the season, but Pullen is already looking forward to next year’s season which will start in late January or early February.