Ryan "Goob" Fitzwater receives "Courageous Student Award" in 2003
By Bob Weaver
On July 2nd, 2001, Ryan "Goob" Fitzwater's life changed quickly when a farm tractor rolled over and crushed him. He was helping put up hay near his home in the Village of Hur.
Goob suffered severe trauma in the roll-over. His life was touch and go for several days as parents Rick and Melinda Fitzwater, their family, friends and the entire Calhoun community clung to hope for his recovery.
Recover he did, but not without facing lots of hurdles.
Ten years later, Goob said, "It gave me a new look on life, my family and friends, and even the smallest of things."
In 2003, two years after the tragedy, he was honored with the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission "Courageous Student Award," having done the hard work to return his life to normal.
Active in football, basketball and golf, Goob has "exhibited courage by overcoming adversity," the award said.
Goob said, "I remember jumping from the tractor," while it was rolling backwards. He was putting up hay with his dad and brother in a remote area off Pine Creek Road. "I remember thinking I might die," he recalled. He didn't remember his dad and brother pushing the tractor away from his crushed body. "Things went black."
Brother Michael, then a Calhoun High football player and now the newly hired Red Devil football coach used his running skills in a way few are called to do.
He ran top speed around the woodlands ridge to call an ambulance. EMS member Mike Little said "We knew it was a critical call. It had that sound" and timelines were critical.
Rick Fitzwater placed his son in the bucket of a tractor, bringing him to the main road with Goob losing most of his blood supply from two traumatic wounds.
"It seemed like everything fell into place to save him," said his dad. The ambulance was there within minutes, trauma care was given and the connection to the HealthNet chopper was right on schedule. He arrived in short order at the trauma unit at Charleston Area Medical Center.
Goob said, "I didn't know how bad it was until I got home, and my friends told me."
In 2003 his dad said, "His recovery has not been easy, but Goob has what it takes to make it."
The Fitzwaters have spoken about Goob's triumphant first walk and his brother's heroics, and their thanks to the Lord for the blessing of Goob's recovery."
In 2001, the Herald reported, "In this tiny chunk of the world we call Hur, neighbors fell to their knees in the middle of the road and prayed for Goob to survive this ordeal."
Calhoun people responded, lifting prayers and helping in many ways, with people across America, in great numbers, giving spiritual support.
While still suffering some physical problems, "I really do know how to take things one day at a time," Goob said.
Goob has been working at Stonewall Jackson Resort in Weston for over two years.
See related stories "GOOB" IS HOME EARLY - It Is A Joyous Day For This Community
GOOB IS UPRIGHT, THINGS ARE LOOKING UP - "Walking Party" May Be His Greatest Victory
"GOOB'S" COURAGE TWO YEARS AFTER TRAGEDY - "Courageous Student Award"