LOCAL NEWS

Trooper who fell off bridge credits several miracles for his survival

Apr 4, 2024, 5:46 PM | Updated: 6:18 pm

ERDA, Tooele County — Steve “Odie” Myer says a series of miracles are not only the reason he’s alive today, but also why he says he’ll walk again and possibly even return to the Utah Highway Patrol.

“Most people wouldn’t survive a fall that far to begin with, from what I’ve been told,” Myer said of the first miracle. “Another miracle is my head somehow landed in some type of a bush that protected it from hitting (the pavement).”

Plus the Department of Public Safety helicopter happened to be nearby on the day of his accident and his fellow troopers decided to load him into that rather than wait for a medical helicopter.

“They just made a decision to load me and go. And that’s what saved my life, really. So, a miracle there, right? If they hadn’t taken me when they did, I didn’t have that much longer left to go with the heart condition that I suffered,” he said.

Then came the surgery to repair his heart which had been ripped out its cavity. Doctors later told Myer they had only heard of two such surgeries ever being successful.

“Just having that repaired was a miracle in itself,” he said.

On Thursday, two days after returning home from being in the hospital and a rehab center for 45 days, Myer took time to express his gratitude for his family, his fellow troopers, the doctors who treated him and the community for their immense support.

“It’s just a big relief to be here,” he said from his living room.

On Feb. 13, Myer — a veteran trooper with the Utah Highway Patrol — was helping with a multi-agency enforcement effort when police attempted to stop an SUV suspected in a drug investigation. The vehicle was spotted near 7200 West and 1300 South and an officer attempted to stop it, but his patrol car was hit by the fleeing vehicle.

Utah Highway Patrol troopers were called to assist Salt Lake police and the SUV was spotted again on I-80 taking the 7200 West exit.

Myer said he knew the SUV would be coming back as the road dead ends. As a trooper prepared to set up tire spikes on one side of the two-lane road, Myer arrived to prepare a spike strip on the other side.

“I could see him coming at a high rate of speed,” Myer said, noting that he had to hurry to get the spikes ready. “The mistake that I made was not looking over (the overpass wall) when I first got there. But it was happening so fast that I really didn’t take the time to do it. I should have looked.”

Myer tried to position himself between his patrol truck and the wall for protection. As the fleeing vehicle approached, it swerved toward him, apparently in an effort to avoid the tire spikes from the other lane, he said.

“So I took a big step back to pull my spikes in front of the vehicle. That’s pretty much the last thing I remember. I’m assuming I had about a 2½-foot barrier there. Even though I thought I was off of the structure, I wasn’t quite. I was right on the edge of it. And that step back tripped me, and I just went over backwards. About a 33-foot fall, or so,” he said, noting that he tripped and that going over the wall was not intentional.

Steve "Odie" Myer

Myer explains what happened when he fell 33 feet and repair injured his heart, and shattered his pelvis and ribs. (Winston Armani, KSL TV)

Myer said, fortunately, another trooper saw him go over — another miracle. And after the DPS helicopter helped officers track down the fleeing vehicle, it returned to the overpass where the decision was made to take Myer to the hospital. At that point, he said a medical helicopter hadn’t even taken off yet.

Myer believes that quick action saved his life as doctors later told him he was only 2 to 5 minutes away from not making it by the time he arrived at the hospital.

He went through three surgeries to repair his heart, shattered pelvis and ribs. Myer suffered 15 fractures in his pelvis and says there’s a high likelihood that he’ll need another surgery in the future for hip replacement.

He spent several weeks in the intensive care unit and even celebrated his 60th birthday while in ICU. He was later moved to a rehab center where he says he did therapy twice a day, every day.

But on Thursday, Myer said it seems like the accident happened just a few days ago.

Today, he needs a wheelchair to get around. Myer said he is able to put pressure on his right leg, but his left side still isn’t healed enough. He says being in a wheelchair has given him much more admiration for people who are wheelchair-bound and the tasks they perform each day.

“Little tasks like washing your hands, brushing your teeth, getting into bed is a different thing. So I have a lot of respect for people that are bound to a wheelchair now that I probably didn’t think that much about before,” he said. “Getting dressed … somebody’s got to help ya til you learn how to do it.”

Myer says he is very grateful for the support he has received from all over.

“The support is just crazy,” he said.

It ranges from constant phone calls and text messages from friends and neighbors, to visits from fellow troopers and lawmakers. Myer joked that he “can’t eat any more cookies,” noting the number of gifts he has received.

His biggest support is from his family and his wife whom he calls his “angel” and has been by his side every day. Myer, who has five grandchildren, also praised the help he has received from his son, who is also a state trooper, and his daughter, a nurse practitioner.

Myer says there is a “really good probability” he will walk again. After that, he would like to return to the Utah Highway Patrol, possibly for another six years.

“I do want to work again, that’s my goal,” he said.

For now, Myer said he’ll just have to “wait and see what the next (miracle) is.”

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Trooper who fell off bridge credits several miracles for his survival