AmpTriLife Interviews Boulder’s Craig Towler: Adapting & Giving Back

From Amp Tri Life

For this blog I interviewed Craig Towler, who started an organization called the Amputee Concierge in order to help people find answers to their questions and connect them with resources following limb loss. I first heard about Craig shortly after the incident that lead to amputation of his legs happened, and was recently connected with him through my friend Nicole DeBoom. Craig is extremely insightful about amputation and life in general, so I hope you enjoy reading the thoughts that he was gracious enough to share below.

Can you talk a little about when and how you were injured?

My amputation was the result of an intoxicated driver on July 4, 2016. I made it home after putting on a 10k/5k run at the Boulder Reservoir to unload my vehicle. I was excited to go celebrate the 4th of July with friends and watch fireworks. Just as I was about to finish unloading, I felt an impact that pushed me into the back of my vehicle, and before I knew what had happened I looked down and saw both of my legs detached. I immediately knew my life was in danger, and action had to be taken immediately for me to survive. I was in tremendous shock at the time, but I remember everything very vividly. I was standing behind the tailgate of my SUV when I felt the impact, and I was pushed into the back of it with my legs hanging out the back. Shortly after the impact, people who were nearby at the time came to my assistance and called for an ambulance. I instructed them to help me lay flat on the ground. To this day, I’m still not sure how I had the mindset that I did, but my thoughts were very clear, and I knew exactly what needed to happen if I did not want to die. Once I was on the ground, I could see the amount of blood that I was losing, and I was losing it very quickly. I then instructed the people around me to remove their belts, and secure them as tightly as possible to my upper legs above the injury to work as a make-shift tourniquet. I later learned from the doctors that the tourniquets had stayed on my legs until I entered surgery hours later, and are the reason that I am alive today. I was taken to the local hospital near my house, and was then air lifted to another hospital with a more advanced trauma unit. Once there, I underwent 5 surgeries throughout the course of the week involving the amputation of both of my legs. One is below the knee, and the other is through the knee. Skin grafts were also taken from both of my upper legs to close the wounds. I was in intensive care for over a week.

What sort of familiarity did you have with the amputee/disability/adaptive community prior to your injury?

Prior to my injury I was not very involved with the adaptive community. Through my work with race production I saw some amazing adaptive athletes compete, as well as worked with a few organizations like Athletes in Tandem, and the Challenged Athletes Foundation.

What sorts of thoughts went through your mind the first few months following amputation?

A lot of thoughts were going through my mind. In the beginning, everything was happening so quickly it was hard to comprehend what was really happening. Everything changed in a split second. When such a large change takes place without any warning or preparation I think it takes a while to come to terms with the new reality…

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Matt Russell Update

From Slowtwitch

Fellow American pro Jesse Thomas was riding behind Matt Russell and witnessed the accident.

“He had just caught me about 5-10 min before and was in front of me heading back into town from Mauna Lani at that first intersection that leads to Waikoloa,” said Thomas to Slowtwitch. “Tailwind section, haven’t looked but I’m guessing we were going well over 30mph, he was pushing hard. I saw a truck start to cross the intersection and thought, ‘that’s cutting it way too close’, then the next moment a van pulled out behind the truck to try to cross as well. It looked like the crossing guard was animated in some way, either trying to wave the van quickly through or trying to get it to stop, but I couldn’t tell what was happening in the brief moments it all went down. I sat up immediately and yelled “oh fuck!” Matt saw it too and sat up and hit his brakes but had probably less than a second to do so and the van was too wide to miss from his angle. He went straight into the side of it nearly full speed. Super loud crash, looked like bike parts shattering, etc…

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UPDATE from Triathlete Magazine:

Matt Russell’s wife, Gillian has shared this statement on Matt’s condition with us:

At this time, Matt remains in the hospital and he is getting the care he desperately needs.

Since the accident, Matt has had multiple procedures and surgeries to address the life threatening injuries he suffered Saturday.

While Matt is resting more comfortably than yesterday we are not out of the woods yet as Matt’s doctors remain concerned with the magnitude and severity of his concussion and vascular injuries.

Matt loves to race and I know he will want to get back when he’s able. However, it’s way too early to know if and when that may happen.

At this point we just want Matt home. Home with me and his newborn son – it’s going to take months of intense rehab to get him prepared for everyday life – and frankly the sooner we can get started the better.

Cyclist killed in Sunshine Canyon ID’d as Brazilian on CU’s triathlon team

From the Times Call

Colorado State Patrol investigators look over a bike at the scene of a fatal crash in Sunshine Canyon west of Boulder on Thursday. ( Paul Aiken / Staff Photographer )

The Boulder County Coroner’s Office on Friday publicly identified the cyclist killed in Sunshine Canyon this week as 19-year-old Alessandro Zarzur, of Sao Paulo, Brazil.

The coroner’s office announced in a news release that it has conducted an autopsy, but the cause and manner of Zarzur’s death remain under investigation.

University of Colorado spokesman Ryan Huff confirmed that Zarzur was a CU student and a member of the school’s triathlon team.

“We are saddened to hear the news of Alessandro’s passing,” Huff said in an email. “The CU family extends its deepest condolences to his family, his friends and the entire CU triathlon team.”

Zarzur died at Boulder Community Health’s Foothills Hospital on Thursday afternoon after he collided with a truck near the 2200 block of Sunshine Canyon Drive.

Colorado State Trooper Josh Lewis said Zarzur was riding eastbound on Sunshine Canyon Drive when he went straight on a right-hand curve and crossed the double yellow line into oncoming traffic, falling down while he attempted to brake.

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