NACOGDOCHES, TX (KTRE) - A life-threatening tractor accident that happened 20 years ago, continues to impact a Nacogdoches man. He'll always remember the injuries, but he also has a superior gratefulness for the simple things in life.
Dick Tubbe climbs ladders while running his own metal building construction business. All the while he never forgets September 21,1997.
"A life-changing experience," Dick Tubbe said.
It was caused by a tractor accident.
"I was mowing on a side of a hill which I had mowed a hundred times," Tubbe said.
Yet 20 years ago, the tractor's front wheel hit a stump. At the same time, the rear tire dropped into a hole. The multi-ton tractor pinned Tubbe facedown. His teenage son found him.
"And Dad was pinned under this tire," said Rusty Tubbe, Dick's son.
"This is a wheel weight. It wasn't on that Ford tractor," Dick Tubbe said. "My head was right here."
A canceled golf game had a role in Tubbe's rescue.
"My brother-in-law, Ben Todd, plays golf at the country club every Sunday evening," Dick Tubbe said." Every Sunday evening, but for some reason this afternoon, this evening, he wasn't at the country club. He was at home, which was right next door."
Together, a teen and his uncle used a rusted chain and a small pickup to pull the tractor off Tubbe.
"My 15-year-old son, did CPR on me," Dick Tubbe said. "The ambulance got behind a funeral procession on County Road 538. It took them 40 minutes to get there. That boy kept me alive until they got there."
"I have flashbacks when we start talking about it, and I see him under the tractor, well he's dead," Rusty Tubbe said in 1997.
It was a dream, but it was a close to reality.
"I coded and I didn't know what that meant," Tubbe said. "I put up metal buildings. I'm not a doctor, but they said I died three times going to the hospital."
Family and friends kept vigil that first night. Their loved one remained in a coma for 21 days. All of his ribs on the right side were removed. Crushed kidneys and a collapsed lung were concerns.
During 36 days in the hospital and a long recuperation at home, there were countless visits, numerous cards and so many favors. The greatest of all, blood donations.
"Three hundred and sixty-five units," Tubbe said. "Enough to completely replenish 48 people."
Two decades ago and today, Tubbe's faith speaks out.
"The Lord watched over me," Tubbe said in 1997. "That's the only reason I'm still here."
"If you're breathing air in, you owe God," Tubbe said Wednesday.
Tubbe uses his strong faith and work ethic to build abroad and across the nation numerous schools, clinics, and churches.
"Nothing more fulfilling than that," Tubbe said.
Within a year of the accident Tubbe was back on the Ford tractor and used it for two more years.
"And then I traded it in on a new one, that has a roll bar," Tubbe said with a chuckle
And there's no hesitation using it.
"There's only one thing more relaxing than sitting on a tractor," Dick Tubbe said. "That's sitting around a fire. I'm blessed. Whew. I'm blessed."
Dick Tubbe keeps a list of names of people who were instrumental in his recovery. He makes it a point to call and thank them on every anniversary of his accident.
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