Tuesday, April 13, 2010

"The Day Mark Montgomery Got Tagged By A Dory Broadside"

We couldn't think of a shorter title, so that will have to do.

"County Recurrent"
recently published a multi p.o.v. story about the Phil Topar Dory incident some years ago. This sparked a memory for retired LACo Lifeguard Chief, Buddy Bohn, who posted the following comment, in part:

"Hi Will,

.....Phil dodged a bullet that day and I’m sure he can attest to the many times our competitors have charged the surf at the site of one of our dories flipping. I think one of the scariest dory crashes I’ve seen was the Mark Montgomery and Dave Story incident at the San Clemente Pier; maybe they’d share what they remember that day. Then there were the pre-helmet days in the sixties and that fateful day at the Huntington Pier when the field of dory crews washed through the pier in big surf and the inshore was then littered with pieces of wood and fiberglass. After that incident the requirement of helmets was a no brainer (no pun intended)."



So there you have it, folks. The inspiration for tracking down Mark Montgomery, with thanks again to Buddy for asking Mark to share what he recalls about the day in San Clemente back in the 70's...

From: Mark Montgomery

To: Buddy Bohn
Date: Tue, 30 Mar 2010

Hey Buddy, nice to hear from you.

As to that day, wow, that brought up a lot of scary memories... It was the Nationals and Dave was my partner. (Just a side note, we qualified 1st at that year's Taplin trials, and eventually were the anchor boat on the Bell winning team.) Bet you never thought Dave had it in him... (-;

Anyway, we had made our turn out from the first handoff and were in the top 4 or so, surf was running about 5ft. Dave was looking over his shoulder and we were clear of the slower incoming boats... Then a few strokes later a boat catches an outside wave, broaches and loses complete control, and is hurling sideways towards us. By the time we saw it they were nearly on top of us, and the bow of their boat caught me in the side of the neck and lifted me off my seat and threw me into the water. You can imagine what that force was like. I was under water motionless and had no feeling what so ever. It was very strange, I did not even feel the need to breathe, I imagine like a pre born baby still in the sac... So I'm just floating under water and eventually my head pops up. I can clearly hear the announcer saying, "He is up and ok!"...

Lucky for me that my best friend Kim Bushong
had sprinted out as soon as he saw the accident, so when I finally popped up he was just about 15 yards away. He could see from the blank stare in my eyes something was really wrong, and despite the announcers claim that I was all right, kept coming towards me. He put me in traction with his hands, rolled on his back, and began to pull me to shore. It was an eerie feeling to be aware, but have no feeling anywhere...

Once Kim hit the shallows, I think it was Mike Dwinell (sp?) who was a lifeguard medic that I knew that took over, and I was eventually backboarded into the back of an ambulance to the hospital... About halfway there I began to feel a tingle in my legs, and hours later most all my feeling came back. Doc says that I had a severely pinched nerve and a cracked C3 or 4. All those years of swimming and building up those neck muscles paid off in spades that day. As far as Dave, he was there the whole time, and in the ambulance too I think. I'm sure he helped Kim too, but I don't remember, perhaps he was still with the boat waiting for me to stop whining and finish the race!

Pretty much full recovery, but I still have neck pain in that spot while paddling and riding a bike, two things that I love to do, but at least there is not a memorial plaque there in San Clemente to mark that day for me...

That's the story as I recall Buddy. I would also like Dave's version when you get it, and please forward mine to him. He should get a kick out of it...



Editor's note:

The Jury is still out on Dave's recollection of this event. We are still waiting to hear back from him... tick, tock, tick, tock.......


From: Mark Montgomery
Date: March 31, 2010
To: Will Maguire

"I didn't get any photos from that day, and it must be late 70's sometime. Dave probably has a better idea which year exactly. We can look at the Taplin Bell, I guess, and see what year Dave and I were on the winning team. Had to be that year or the next...

I will check out your blog, I did read the Topar article you just put up, good stuff..."


*** *** ***

Until next time.....

"County Recurrent" News

Service • Training • Commitment

*** Keeping the County Recurrent "in the loop"..... whether he/she likes it or NOT ! ***

DISCLAIMER: County Recurrent is not affiliated with nor sponsored by LACOLA or LACoFD.

***** ***** ***** ***** *****

1 comment:

Cindee Topar said...

Its interesting that at the time of both these Dory accidents i was either married or dating the individuals.Mark asked me what i recollected so here it is.I was home with our kids when Phil had his accident.Im glad i didnt witness that.Phil downplayed the incident and was modest as always.I really had no idea how bad it was,he called me from the beach and said he was lucky to be alive.He sort of laughed and nobody really talked much about it.I was told to read this account of the day.I am sorry Phil,I had no idea this was as scary as it was.Thank you for not scaring me but im sorry i wasnt more consoling to you.I really had no idea.Thankfully this is a tight knit group who really lookout for each other.
Regarding Mark Montgomery that was the summer of 1979.My first of about 25 years of watching competitions.The waves came up naturally as soon as the boats were brought out.Little did i know at the time this was quite often going to be the case.Mark and Dave Story got hung up as well as everyone else in some now huge surf,it was pulling twords the pier and the pilings were getting closer and closer.The boats were all broaching ,and guys were scrambling from the front to the back ,and side to side maneuvering the boats.Some were all out trying to ride the waves, while others were waiting for the lull.The lull that never seem to come.From what i remember Mark was sort of ejected out of the boat hitting his neck and head.I was standing next to recurrent Kim Bushong i remember him saying as he ran to the water somethings wrong.There were boats,oars,lifeguards all in the water helping each other.Everyone looking out for each other yelling to watch out as another boat came flying in. Everyone worried about each other knowing that one smack from those powerful boats could easily kill someone.Kim then came twords shore stabilizing Marks head as Lifeguards,Paramedics put him on a backboard and neck brace.Spectators,many whom had never seen such a competition were shocked that these athletes put themselves in such peril.As they loaded Mark into the ambulance I bent down and he whispered to me that he couldnt feel his legs or feet.I was frozen,I wasnt ready for that comment.Dave jumped in the ambulance with Mark all the while telling him that it was all going to be fine.The look on Daves face wasnt nearly that confident.Renee Story and i followed behind when Paramedics had Mark in the emergency room waiting to get in Mark said he had alittle feeling in his feet now.After what seemed like hours Mark came out in a wheelchair,felling in his legs and feet and a very relieved look on his face.Needless to say he needed rest and no dory boats for awhile.All of these guys were, and are very talented athletes.Lifeguards really look after one another.Thankfully so,Cindee Topar