South Lake Tahoe resident Anthony Lizaola can vividly describe the rock climbing accident in Carson City that took his leg in August.
He remembers reaching for a rock, the rock springing loose and the 20-foot fall to a ledge below. He recalls the 5-foot boulder coming down on his leg, and the leftover mess of muscle and bone.
“It was shredded open,” Lizaola said Thursday.
Hanging upside down and not wanting to fall another four or five feet to ground level, the 23-year-old used his right arm to hold himself up, while his left arm grasped his mangled leg.
The friend he was climbing with called 911, but it took about 20 minutes for an ambulance to arrive, he said.
Lizaola was immediately taken to Renown Regional Medical Center in Reno. After coming out of surgery, he heard the news: his pelvis was broken, his clavicle was broken and his left leg had been amputated.
“I had already expected the leg to be amputated,” he said. “It wasn’t a big shock or anything. I kind of parted ways with it on the rock.”
Lizaola currently gets around in a wheelchair and walker, but what he really needs is something more mobile, said his father, Hugo. On Nov. 4, a spaghetti feed will be held to help the family pay for a prosthetic.
“He’s a great kid,” he said. “And he’s full of energy. He just wants to get on with his life the way it was before.”
Family friend and event organizer Jeannette Shippee said she hopes to raise about $10,000 for the limb.
“He’s my family,” Shippee said. “I don’t want to see him struggle.”
Lizaola, who said he’s been keeping a positive attitude since his accident, is happy to receive the support.
“It’s awesome,” he said. “It’s definitely helping out a lot.”
In the meantime, Lizaola said he’s been focusing on his rehabilitation and eventually moving on with his life.
“There’s no use in crying over spilled milk, I guess. Right?” he said.