By Caroline Wigmore
HOWARD LAKE, WAVERLY, WINSTED, MN, - Dave Metcalf, former Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted teacher, and his son Jox, a graduate of Dassel-Cokato, were on their way home from an C/DC concert in St. Paul, when the unthinkable happened.
A long, 10-pound piece of iron crashed through the dashboard, hitting Jox, who had been sitting in the passenger seat, in the chest.
Before Dave had pieced together what had just happened, he wondered if they had been shot, or if someone had thrown something off a bridge.
“But there were no bridges around,” Dave said. He looked down to see the piece of iron laying on Jox’s lap.
Dave quickly maneuvered the car over to the side of the interstate and called 911.
“Jox couldn’t speak, he wasn’t breathing,” Dave said. Jox started gasping and it was about 10 minutes before he was breathing well again.
It was only a few minutes before emergency vehicles arrived.
The piece of iron was later determined to be a leaf spring that had apparently broken off of another vehicle. The vehicle was not identified, and police don’t expect to find the vehicle.
Jox was quickly taken to the emergency room. The emergency room doctors had been given a mis-report that the leaf spring was embedded in his chest.
“Sorry to disappoint you,” Jox told them, which got some laughs from his doctors. He was given pain medicine and warned that he would be very sore.
Jox is a high school teacher at St. Michael and took a few days off of work to recover. He has massive bruising on his chest and a lot of pain, but Dave considers it a blessing that the injury wasn’t worse.
Dave can’t help but think what might have been if the details of the incident were just a little bit different.
“It if had been two inches over, it could have hit Jox’s sternum and stopped his heart,” Dave said, “Or it could have hit his face. And if it had hit me while I was driving, we could both be dead,” Dave added.
“Jox lifts weights at St. Michael, so he had a layer of muscle where it hit,” Dave said. “He was also wearing a couple of layers and a thick jacket, which may have saved him,” Dave said.
Looking back on the incident, neither Jox or Dave remember seeing a truck that the leaf spring could have flown off of, and they never saw it coming.
“God was watching, and for whatever reason, it was a wake-up call,” he said.
The police told Jox and Dave that it is uncommon for debris on roads to cause injuries, but that another case similar to theirs had recently taken place in St. Paul, where a piece of iron flew up under a man’s car and embedded itself in his leg.
Police said that it was possible that the iron was from the same vehicle, but that it would be almost impossible to tell.
The leaf spring was kept by the police for investigation.
“I guess we might get it back as a souvenir, but I don’t know what we would do with it,” Dave laughed.
The irony of it all is that Jox and Dave had planned the special trip into St. Paul to celebrate Jox’s 35th birthday.
The day may not have turned out as they planned, but according to Dave, “The concert was great.”