Injured construction worker, responders talk about Friday’s accident

Posted by KLKN.

Eric Walkenhorst said he was setting up a construction sign near 16th and Old Cheney Road when a car ran into him, pinning him to the sign.

"I told her to move her car back now, because I was pinned in there," Walkenhorst said.  "She did.   And I looked down and my leg was laying there.  And I was in so much shock…but I remember a bystander running over and…tying the belt to my leg."

That bystander was Don Freeman, a man with no formal training in emergency response.

Freeman said he was at a nearby gas station when he saw the wreck.

He said he doesn’t know how he thought to use his belt as a tourniquet, but that he just flew into action.

"It was just actions," Freeman said.  "I didn’t think.  It just happened."

Freeman said Walkenhorst was surprisingly coherent.  He stayed with him while Lincoln Fire and Rescue responders were on their way.

"I’m just glad he was there that day," Walkenhorst said.  "Because I wouldn’t be here today."

LFR Captain Brian Giles said Freeman’s actions were crucial in helping control the bleeding with the time it takes for emergency responders to arrive.

"We were approximately 12 blocks away, so the travel time was very short," Giles said.  "But still, it was vital importance that that belt was placed as a tourniquet prior to our arrival.  Had a definite impact on the outcome of the patient."

Bryan Health said their Stop the Bleed campaign teaches everyday citizens how to apply the tourniquet in situations like these and more people would be ready to step in like Freeman did..

For his part, Walkenhorst said he hopes people could learn a lesson from his story.

"Slow down in construction zones and watch out for people," Walkenhorst said.  "It’s not that hard.  Just slow down.  There’s plenty of construction in Lincoln right now and there’s no sense in trying to kill somebody else."

Walkenhorst is also a volunteer for Eagle Fire and Rescue.  Their department opened an account for contributions to help with his medical expenses.  Donors can go to any Cornhusker State Bank branch to donate.