Injured VT Road Foreman Thankful to be Alive

D. Jay Leach of Fairfax was seriously hurt in late October by a falling tree

This Thanksgiving, a man injured by a falling tree in Vermont’s Franklin County is thankful to be alive.

“From the amount of damage I had to my body, I was lucky I’m still here, and still in one piece,” D. Jay Leach told necn.

Leach and his family ate their holiday meal inside the University of Vermont’s physical rehab center in Colchester.

“Every day’s an uphill battle,” Leach said. “Nobody has a crystal ball to see what’s going to happen, but we’re hoping for the best.”

In late October, Leach was injured when a wind-damaged tree suddenly snapped, in what coworkers called a freak accident.

The longtime town of Fairfax highway foreman was on the job clearing a blocked road, following a violent storm that brought down countless trees and power lines across Vermont.

The lifelong Fairfax resident underwent emergency procedures at the UVM Medical Center in Burlington, including a spinal fusion. He’s now using a wheel chair as he works hard to try to regain his mobility.

“I’m going to keep going until I can get mobility enough to do things,” Leach said. “I don’t want to just sit down. I’ve always been active—I want to stay that way.”

D. Jay’s wife, Kathy, sent her appreciation to everyone who assisted her and her husband in their time of need, especially the people of Fairfax and other town employees.

“The love and the support is overwhelming,” she said.

Leach’s loved ones are now displaying large signs in Fairfax, with painted red hearts that tell their neighbors thank you: thanks to the firefighters and EMTs who got D. Jay to the hospital; thanks to friends for their cards, prayers, fundraisers, and donations; and thanks to UVM’s doctors, nurses, and physical therapists.

“I’m thankful he’s alive,” Kathy Leach told necn. “We’ve been together 47 years, and I love him more than anything else in the world.”

D. Jay Leach said he knows he has a long road ahead of him, but he’s determined to walk again. That would be something to be truly thankful for, he said.

“Always look up, don’t look back – look to the future,” D. Jay Leach told.

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