[cifnmedia] Motorist Rescued After 36 Hours On Freeway

  • From: <gmcgrath@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: "Sean Aaron" <cifn@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>, "Charles" <chaser@xxxxxxx>,"Brad Dietrick" <bradfurniturefirst@xxxxxxxxxxx>,<cifnmedia@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • Date: Wed, 31 Mar 2004 13:48:49 -0500

Motorist Rescued After 36 Hours On Freeway
Passenger Riding In Back Of Truck Spots Man Between Barricades

POSTED: 11:29 am CST March 30, 2004

FRIENDSWOOD, Texas -- A motorist injured after a crash lay paralyzed in the 
middle of the Gulf Freeway with a broken neck for 36 hours before he was 

Ed Theisen's plight was blocked from the view of passing cars by some traffic 

The 46-year-old chemical engineer from Friendswood, a Houston suburb, survived 
a night alone on the concrete, unable to move or summon help.  

"Someone riding in the back of a pickup truck spotted him and called police," 
Debora Rodeffer-Theisen, his wife, said Monday after her husband emerged from 
surgery. "The officer poked him with a nightstick thinking he was a dead body, 
but he was there and he was very much alive. It was a miracle." 

Worried that he had been carjacked, Theisen's wife drove past the area twice as 
her husband prayed for small things such as the ability to grab a plastic bag 
fluttering nearby to wrap around his arm. He was on his side, staring at a 
concrete wall, his shouts inaudible to passing traffic. 

Doctors later determined that Theisen had broken his neck and suffered a spinal 
cord injury. He underwent surgery Monday. Family members are eager for him to 
recover and also are searching for the person who spotted him and called 

"That person, whoever it was, saved his life," Debora Rodeffer-Theisen told the 
Houston Chronicle in Tuesday's editions. "And I just want to find them and say 
`Thank you. Thank you for giving me my husband back.' " 

Theisen's mother, Mary Ellen Theisen, told The Associated Press on Tuesday that 
the family was "overjoyed" at her son's rescue, and he was resting after his 
surgery. She said doctors weren't certain if his paralysis would be permanent. 

"There will be a lot of rehab," she said. "He was paralyzed when they found 
him, so there's a lot of work to be done. But our spirits are good." 

The motorist had been rear-ended on March 22 near downtown and was exchanging 
insurance information with the other driver. To avoid walking in heavy oncoming 
traffic, Theisen had stepped between concrete barriers that separate the 
high-occupancy vehicle lane from regular traffic when he felt weak. 

"He thought he was having a heart attack or a stroke," said Rodeffer-Theisen. 
"He grabbed the concrete barrier and just went down." 

Instantly paralyzed, her husband could only move his right hand a few inches. 

Police wrote an accident report after Theisen disappeared, saying he had walked 
away from the scene, his wife said. She said the tow truck driver who hauled 
off Theisen's car about 7 a.m., and who likely was his last hope, did not see 

His family feared the worst. 

Rodeffer-Theisen, relatives and friends were plastering their Friendswood 
neighborhood with fliers including Theisen's photograph when the Houston Fire 
Department called March 23 to say that he was alive. Rodeffer-Theisen called 
Memorial Hermann Hospital. 

"They said, `We have him here and he is alive and he saying he loves you,' " 
she said. "He was covered in Houston pollution -- it was coming out of every 
pore -- but he was alive." 

Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may 
not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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