2001: GOOB IS UPRIGHT, THINGS ARE LOOKING UP - "Walking Party" May Be His Greatest Victory

By Bob Weaver 2001

Goob is walking (with a little help, sometimes)

Ryan "Goob" Fitzwater is upright and walking, rebounding from a near-fatal tractor accident while harvesting hay near the Village of Hur. A large number of folks showed up for hot dogs, hamburgers and refreshments, but mostly to celebrate a living victory for "The Goob."

Yesterday his family had a "Walking Party" to express their appreciation to their friends and community members who offered support, work and prayers during a difficult time.

Goob's friends enjoyed the afternoon

Prayers of gratitude

Among the honored guests, emergency medical personnel from Calhoun EMS, Josh Johnson and Mike Little. "It's a wonderful thing to be here today," they said. "We just did our jobs," said Johnson, direct from the training, recalling the response and transport times fell into place to save Fitzwater's life.

The men said there are just a few times each year in rural Calhoun County, the situation is super critical. "This was one of them," said Little.

EMS personnel honored (Back) Josh Johnson, Goob Fitzwater, Mike Little (Front) Brother Mike, Dad Rick, Mom Melinda

"It wouldn't been that way a few years ago," said Johnson. "We arrived on the scene in about four minutes, and the HealthNet chopper had him in Charleston in less than an hour."

The 15-year-old was crushed by the tractor on a backwoods ridge off Pine Creek Road. His dad and brother Mike managed to get help, with the youth being placed in a bucket on the front of another tractor. He suffered multiple crushing injuries, including a broken pelvis, with a critical loss of blood.

Goob's dad, Rick Fitzwater, a branch manager for Calhoun Banks and President of the Calhoun County Board of Education said "We don't appreciate them, EMS and firemen, until we need them. They are real assets to our community."

Goob walked to the center of Wayne Underwood Field last Friday night at the homecoming game. "One of his big goals is to play football again, and I think he'll do it," said his dad.

"We had this get-together today to try and thank all the people and express our gratitude," said mom Melinda Fitzwater.

Goob's trauma was felt across America by readers of The Hur Herald, who wrote and called wanting to know what they could do. His life at stake, he was placed on hundreds of prayer chains.

"The help we got was far more than we ever expected," said Rick Fitzwater. "It is why we live here in this county."

Cheering for Goob

A big crowd in the Village of Hur

Celebrating recovery with gratitude