August 1979. I was riding Cherry Hill Skatepark, my halfpipe and other stuff on a regular basis. Jim Howell and I rode together daily. We were learning exponentially. We were smoking weed and skating hard…it was good. I was going into the house for lunch on a Sunday afternoon and I walked by the basketball rim beside the garage. My dad had lowered the rim to approximately six feet in height. You see, I had a younger brother who was into basketball. I just jumped up and acted like I was slam- dunking a ball. My hand slid down the rim and fell between the V-shaped bracket underneath.
My full weight came down and I found myself screaming in agony as I hung there by my wrist. A fountain of gore sprayed my face as the artery was cut. Rivulets of hot blood ran down my arm and into my shirt & shorts. I hung there, swinging grotesquely…every movement taking me further into unconsciousness. An eternity went by. My mouth shrieked and gnashed. I found myself whimpering. Finally, I felt myself lifted. Strong hands pulled me close and my arm was wrapped in towels. I looked at the sky and a black wind blew across my face. I smelled grass…freshly cut. For reasons unknown to me, I thought of Mike Folmer and green Sims Snakes wheels. I yelled at every footstep as I was carried to the van… bolts of pain, pounding across my mind. I squirmed like a bug under a black boot.
I lost track of time. Blood erupted around the towels and ran into the cassette tape case on the floor of the van. It was filling it. My dad drove me to the hospital. I remember crying and repeating a word like a mantra…”Hurts.” We drove like the devils henchmen were at our heels. We drove on the wrong side of the road – my dad and me – bloody, savage, crying. I had virtually cut my right hand off. I cut the radial artery, veins, radial nerve and tendons. It would be a long haul.
A doctor named Eric Blomain, was a hand surgeon at Hershey Medical Center that day. He sewed me up and reconnected everything. I was skating in a splint within seven months. To this day, I still cannot make the ‘thumbs up’ gesture very well…but I can do inverts. Thanks to my dad for saving my life (I lost a ton of blood), Dr. Eric Blomain and Mike Folmer for getting me through it all. Thanks to Jim Goodrich for the image and the inspiration to write about this horrible memory. Skate-Ozzie