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10/31/2013 Accident victim Richard Koester on road to recovery

Silver Cliff resident Richard Koester, who was involved in an accident that killed Ronald Lee Mohr and left Koester trapped for six days, has left ICU.

The accident occurred along Highway 50 west of Canon City, and was discovered on October 17 by a highway worker. Mohr and Koester’s 1986 Ford truck went off the road into a 30-foot ravine. Neither of them were wearing seatbelts.

Koester reportedly had just a few inches of space, where he sat trapped against the decomposing body of his friend for up to six days.

Having sustained multiple injuries, including a broken jaw, shattered elbow, and split femur, no one expected Koester to wake up a little over a week later. Even more, no one expected that he would be released from the ICU in his Colorado Springs hospital.

"Rick’s just getting better and better every day," said Bob Koester, Rick’s father and owner of B&D Automotive in Silver Cliff. "He’s out of critical care and into rehab."

But Koester doesn’t remember anything about the accident.

"I think it’s a blessing," Bob Koester said. "He’s handling the news okay, though. Michael, his brother, told him that his legs were both amputated from the knee down. . . He is doing good, considering."

Rick’s brother, Michael, posted the following on Facebook:

"Rick is . . . on the mend, although he is still in bad shape and has a long road ahead. He has a rod in his right thigh to rebuild his femur, and has plates in his jaw, and pins in his left arm at the elbow. He also has frostbite on the fingers of his right hand, but has somehow regained circulation to them. They may or may not heal.

"His breathing tube was removed a few days ago, but he still has a feeding tube because he can’t swallow properly yet. He can speak now. We are starting to understand him as he continues speech therapy."

Bob Koester explained that they still are not sure when Koester will be able to return home, but they are encouraged by his strength.

"They expected Rick to be in the ICU for a month," Bob Koester said. "Now after a few weeks, he’s out. He is a survivor."

Koester does not have health insurance, which has been another point of worry for his family. In an effort to raise money for his medical expenses and therapy, the Koester’s have set up a donation account with First State Bank in Westcliffe. Mail-in donations are accepted, and can be sent to 1000 Main Street, Westcliffe, CO 81252.

"Rick is a miracle." Bob Koester grinned and gave a proud nod. "He even cracks a smile every once in a while. We are very grateful. Very grateful."

-J.E. Ward