Middie grad faces medical battle after rock climbing accident

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A 2000 Middletown High School graduate is being called “an absolute miracle” after he fell about 70 feet while rock climbing near his home in Washington State, his father said.


Andy Knepshield, 32, an experienced rock climber, was climbing with a partner at Little Si in North Bend, Wash., on Sunday when something went wrong with the rope and he fell 30 feet, hit a rock ledge, fell 30 feet, hit another ledge, then landed on the ground 10 feet later, said his mother, Joan Allen.


His father, Mac Knepshield, a longtime Middletown teacher, said he talked with physicians who told him the survival rate for such a severe fall was 1 percent. As Father’s Day nears, Knepshield knows what he wants: “A well-recovered son.”


After Knepshield fell, there was a search and rescue team in the area performing practice exercises, and they responded “very quickly,” his mother said.


He was transported to Harborview Medical Center in Seattle where he has undergone numerous surgeries for his injuries that include broken pelvis, broken neck, ruptured lung and internal bleeding. His spleen was removed, his mother said.


When asked about his recovery, his mother called it “hour-by-hour.”


In recent days, she said, her son’s chest tube has been removed.


As word of Knepshield’s accident spread throughout the community, his mother said there has been “an unbelievable outpouring of support” from fellow rock climbers, bike messengers in New York, where Knepshield once worked, and his Middletown classmates and friends.


Mac Knepshield, who worked in Middletown for 31 years before retiring to Charleston, S.C., said he received an Internet message from a student he taught during his first year at Taft School.


“The compassion and support have been incredible,” Mac Knepshield said Friday morning from the hospital. “He’s truly loved by a lot of people. I need to take some lessons from him.”


Knepshield also has been impressed by the love and loyalty shown by his daughter-in-law. Emily Knepshield, a Dayton native, never has left her husband’s bedside, he said.


Andy, a Wright State University graduate, and Emily will celebrate their first wedding anniversary next week.


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