Jim - spine trauma

UCLA Health article

The story of Jim


August 28, 2006 is a day that my life changed forever. It's a day that I have no recollection of. I only know what occurred by what others have told me and by the pictures and news footage that I have seen.

I still don't fully comprehend how close I really was to losing my life that day.

I am a Los Angeles county sheriff motorcycle deputy. I was assigned to the city of Malibu. I worked in one of the most beautiful places you could ask for. I actually got paid to ride a motorcycle through the canyons and up and down Pacific Coast Highway.

I couldn't have asked for a better assignment.

I had paid my dues. I worked 5 years in South Central Los Angeles working at stations from Compton to Lynwood. I was now assigned closer to home working daytime hours to spend more time with my family.

On August 28, a man robbed a Wells Fargo bank at gunpoint. He fled in his car and was seen by one of my partners. The suspect fled and a pursuit began. The suspect was driving recklessly at high speeds and on the wrong side of the road. I was down the road and he was heading towards me. The suspect came up from behind me going approximately 80 mph as I was going about 55 mph.

It was later confirmed by the suspects own statements that he intentionally rammed me with his car in an attempt to make me crash. He knew that if I crashed, the other deputies would stop and help me and he could get away. That is exactly what happened, although he was later apprehended and will now spend the rest of his life in prison.

I lost control of my motorcycle and clipped a parked car. I then left my motorcycle and went flying through the air. I spun around and slammed with my back first into a parked truck causing me to stop. I suffered massive internal injuries including a lacerated liver, broken neck and back vertebrae, punctured lung, broken ribs and shoulder blades and a broken ankle. I was bleeding to death internally. If it wasn't for the quick work of my partners on the sheriffs department and the firemen and lifeguards on scene I wouldn't be here today. Within minutes I was flown to UCLA Hospital for emergency surgery.

I was treated by Dr. Cryer and his team for my lacerated liver. He performed emergency surgery and after several days and many units of blood they were able to stop the bleeding. They saved my life and I am forever grateful.

I remained in a coma in the ICU when Dr. Langston Holly and his team took over in order to treat my neck and back injuries. They performed two separate surgeries each lasting about 12 hours. They fused my neck and back using titanium rods and screws.

Dr. Holly made quite an impression on my family and friends who were at the hospital. He explained everything to them about what he had done and answered any questions that they had. My family still asks me to this day about Dr. Holly every time I have a follow up appointment. They ask how he is doing and reiterate about how wonderful he was during what was a very difficult time. They did not know if I would survive or if I would be permanently paralyzed from my injuries.

I am doing extremely well and I hope to make a nearly full recovery. I will have some limitations from the injuries, but I should be able to do all the things I had done before and even return to work as a deputy sheriff.

I had no choice about which hospital they took me to or which doctors would treat me. I feel extremely fortunate that I went to UCLA. I couldn't have had better treatment. That applies to everyone from the doctors to the nurses and the entire staff at the hospital. They were wonderful. In what has been by far the worst time of my life, I have met some of the finest people imaginable.

I told Dr. Holly how grateful I am and thanked him for what he did for me. He doesn't like to take a lot of credit for me making what has been described as a miraculous recovery. I have no doubt that he has much to do with it and I am forever grateful that he and his staff have given me a second chance at life.

Jim Case History

Case History of Jim


Jim is a motorcycle deputy in the Los Angles County Sheriff Department stationed in Malibu. While on patrol, he was struck by an automobile driven by a robbery suspect who was fleeing the scene of a crime. He was brought into the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center Emergency Room with numerous severe injuries. He was immediately taken to the operating room by the general surgery service for treatment of a life threatening liver laceration. On examination he was noted to be unable to move his left leg, and had severe weakness of the right leg. CT and MRI scans disclosed that he had a serious spinal injury. He suffered a T5-6 fracture (mid-back) (Fig. 1), and a C6 fracture (neck). There was significant pressure on his spinal cord, and his spine was mechanically unstable. Without surgery, he virtually had no chance of regaining functional use of his legs, and the instability of his spine precluded him from sitting up.


I made the decision that he would need to undergo extensive surgery, simultaneously treating the fractures in his neck and mid-back. I had a long talk with his wife regarding the procedure. We used computer image guidance, a cutting edge technology in which placement of the bone screws were guided by a computer workstation. He required two surgeries, and a total of sixteen titanium screws and two rods were placed (Fig. 2). His spine was fused from the C5-T8 levels.

Jim made remarkable progress following surgery. He slowly began to regain function in both legs, and was able to lift them off of the bed upon discharge. He then was transferred to an acute rehabilitation center, and continued to make a wonderful recovery. Approximately six weeks after surgery he was able to walk with a walker, and now he is able to walk normally without any assistance.

I feel blessed that I was able to participate in his care. He is a fantastic human being, and was injured while attempting to make our lives safer. May God continue to bless Mr. Mulay and his entire family.

By Langston T. Holly, M.D.

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