Judge comes back strong after tragic boating accident 7/5/2013

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 7, 2013

Judge comes back strong after tragic boating accident

By: John Howell Sr.

Chancellor Mitch Lundy was making the rounds of Batesville civic clubs this week, just under four months after a tragic boating accident severed one leg, severely injured the other and nearly claimed his life.

Though there is a pronounced limp in his gait as the judge adjusts to a prosthetic right leg, it was reassuring to see that Lundy has returned to as much of himself as he ever was before when both legs were intact. Chancery Clerk Jim Pitcock brought Lundy to the Tuesday meeting of Rotary Club. On Wednesday, he was the guest of Tax Assessor/Collector David Garner at the Exchange Club.

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“I was probably cutting some corners, and that’s not a good thing,” Lundy said. He said that he has since agreed to a Corps of Engineers’ request to appear in public service advertisements promoting boating safety.

Lundy was fishing alone in Grenada Lake — something he’s done all his life — “running full throttle” in his flat-bottom, aluminum boat when the motor struck a submerged stump. The judge was thrown into the water, and the boat, its motor knocked at an angle, began running around him in circles.

“I thought I could get up there and hit the throttle handle,” he said. Instead, when he attempted to grab the side of the boat and lunge toward the handle, he missed, and his legs were thrown under the boat and into the spinning propeller with devastating effect.
As he thrashed about in the water, Lundy felt for one leg with the other. “I knew it was gone,” he said.

That’s when Randy Hurst — an “angel,” Lundy said — who was fishing nearby, maneuvered to Lundy in his boat and pulled him from the water. Using a belt as a tourniquet, Hurst staunched the arterial bleeding as two more fisherman arrived who helped care for Lundy as they headed for a nearby boat landing.

Lundy was being treated by a land ambulance crew at the backwaters boat landing when they made contact with a Med Stat helicopter near them.

The pilot — Bo Burkes— landed the aircraft in the small clearing around the boat landing. In what Lundy said seemed like another “15 or 20 minutes,” he was being wheeled into surgery in Tupelo where he received “phenomenal medical attention,” he said.

After the intial surgeries in Tupelo, Lundy was transferred to River Oaks Hospital in Jackson for plastic surgery to repair the gaping wound in his left leg.

The judge returned to Grenada in a wheel chair but was soon using crutches to access his upstairs apartment on the new prosthetic leg.

During his recovery, Lundy continued, he learned that he had been the object of much more prayer than he ever thought himself worthy of.

“It has been a very humbling experience,” he said.

He attributes his survival to “the power of prayer” and to Hurst, Burkes and many others who got him into good hands in Tupelo as the flicker of life within him dimmed.

It is dim no longer. The judge has already made a return fishing trip to the spot where his accident occurred. He only missed six days of court — partly, he said,  because when he had filled out his vacation schedule, he had planned many of those days to coincide with the crappie spawn.

Instead he found them devoted to treatment, healing and recovery.

While he was praising the treatment he received in Tupelo, Lundy cited “emotional care” in addition to medical expertise. If the present state of his recovery is any indication, it’s a sure bet that Lundy gave as good as he got.