BY GABE LICHT
MONTROSE, MN Oct. 25 seemed like a normal morning for Brad Klepperich, of Montrose.
He woke up at 4:30 a.m. and started the long commute to Ramsey, where he was working construction.
On his normal route, he saw two semi trucks ahead of him, so he turned onto a back road to try to save some time.
“I was driving along and, all of a sudden, there was a deer right at the driver’s side window,” Klepperich said. “I reacted to it and swerved to the right a little bit. By the time I started correcting myself back to the left, the right tires were already in the gravel.”
Klepperich remembers seeing flashes of light and tree branches until his vehicle crashed.
“Honestly, I thought I was going to die or I was hurt more than I was because the pain kept getting worse and worse and worse, and eventually I lost my breath,” Klepperich said.
He caught his breath and started screaming for help.
As he sat there and watched six vehicles drive by, he realized he could not be seen from the road.
He couldn’t find his phone, so he started weighing his options.
“It was cold and dark. It was 5 in the morning. The sun wasn’t going to come up for a couple hours,” Klepperich said. “Either I had to sit there in the cold and in pain, or I had to figure out a way to get some kind of help.”
He opted for the latter, reclining his seat and pushing himself to the back window.
“I got my bad leg out,” Klepperich said. “I went to swing my good leg out, and it must have gotten caught on something, so I fell out the window onto my bad leg.”
He tried to use a piece of plastic as a crutch, but it broke, so he decided to belly crawl to the road.
“I crawled up the ditch and laid on the road,” Klepperich said. “I had my construction, high-visibility jacket on. I just waited for somebody to drive by. As soon as I heard a car, I started waving my arm.”
A passerby stopped to help.
“It just happened to be he was an EMT from Glencoe who was late to work and happened to go by at the right time,” Klepperich said.
After calling for an ambulance, the man kept Klepperich alert.
When emergency personnel arrived, they transported Klepperich to the Buffalo hospital.
“They put my ankle kind of back in place. They ambulanced me over to North Memorial,” Klepperich said.
Not only had he broken his tibia and fibula in his right ankle, but also his hand and three vertebrae in his neck and back, in addition to several abrasions.
His injuries will leave him laid up for quite some time.
“I can’t walk on the foot for three to six months,” Klepperich said. “I have to wear the neck and body brace for three months. I pretty much won’t be able to do anything all winter.”
His construction season has been cut short, and he will be unable to bring in income from snowplowing.
His fiancé, Sam Brightbill, who works part-time as a teller, talked about how life has changed.
“I’m doing everything,” Brightbill said. “I’m not only taking care of my daughter, but I’m pretty much a single mom for three months. I’m taking care of him, as well.”
“I can’t get out of bed in the morning without her,” Klepperich added.
He also cannot navigate the stairs in the couple’s split-level home without assistance.
“I’ve never felt so relied on in my life,” Brightbill said. “If something needs to be done, I have to figure out how to do it and who to call. It’s pretty much all on my shoulders.”
Family has helped care for the couple’s 2-year-old daughter, Sophia, while Brightbill is at work.
Klepperich’s mother, Peggy Janikula, also posted in the Community of Montrose Facebook group seeking support from the community.
“It’s nerve-wracking and out of our comfort zone to ask for this help, but I’ve had numerous ladies message me. They’re preparing meals,” Brightbill said. “It’s wonderful. It’s a blessing. We’re overjoyed at having these people help us.”
Anyone interested in helping can do so at www.gofundme.com/saved-by-a-miracle.