BY LEANN DILBECK –
A local Mena businessman injured in a one-vehicle accident in August is continuing to fight his way back to a normal life in a world-renowned facility in Colorado. Mark Crawford, manager of one of Mena’s oldest businesses, Sanders Moving & Storage, was injured when he swerved to miss a deer on August 21 near the “devils eyebrow” curve on Hwy 375. The Ford F250 pickup he was driving left the roadway and slammed into a tree. The collision was with such force that the seatbelt broke and Crawford was thrown into the passenger side floorboard. He was alone at the time of the incident.
SouthWest EMS transported Crawford to Mena Regional Health System who triaged him and airlifted him to St. Vincent in Hot Springs, where it was concluded that he had suffered a traumatic spinal cord injury along with multiple facial fractures, including 27 staples on the top of his head, 3 broken ribs, a broken nose, and a broken arm. Crawford said that one doctor told him that if he hadn’t had such a muscular 18.5 inch neck, his spinal cord probably would have been severed and killed him.
Crawford was subsequently transferred to Health South Rehab at Sparks in Ft. Smith to undergo intensive therapy. Through a referral by his case worker, also a Mena native, Donna (Strickland) Short, nurses from the world-renowned Craig Institute in Englewood, Colo. flew in and conducted an assessment of his injuries and determined that Crawford was an excellent candidate for their program that specializes in traumatic spinal cord injuries. Crawford was flown there in September and has undergone additional surgeries and intensive physical therapy. While Crawford remains in a wheelchair now, unable to walk, doctors have given him hope that with continued intensive physical rehabilitation, he can regain the ability to walk. “I will walk again,” said a very determined Crawford, who said he wants to return to normal and get back to walking and working.
His mother, Judy, has come out of retirement to run the family business. Crawford is the third generation to run the business that was founded by Gene Sanders in 1936 and she said that she is grateful his crew has stayed with them. She spoke of her son’s determination to regain walking and return to work, “He may not be moving pianos and gun safes anymore, but he does want to return to work.” Judy said they have made modifications to his house to allow for the wheelchair, but they remain determined that they are only temporary.
Crawford expressed his appreciation to Dr. Johansen and his team at the Craig Institute for how far they have brought him, but said if it were not for the swift response of Robby Hines and the crew of SouthWest EMS, along with the excellent medical care he received from the MRHS Emergency Dept., he would have never made it to Colorado.
Even with insurance, the family has endured extraordinary expenses. An account has been established at Union Bank in the name of Mark Crawford Special Account for anyone who is interested in assisting.