from John B. Harris, MD

Letter to the Editor

Lisa Zink mother graphic account of 5 yo daughter snow ski disc sled accident …THAT winter sports injury made me stay at Tahoe…even WITHOUT a CT Scanner!

A Girl (just days 5 years old), Destined to Quickly Expire … Created a Tahoe Life- Changing Epiphany

It was an innocent young professional family’s first recreational trip to the ‘snow’ that suddenly turned deadly … but let Mom describe it in her own words;

Mrs, Zink Account, in her own words:

“I kept a journal from 1-29 thru 2-2 so this account is what I wrote:

Lisa had her accident on Pioneer Trail at approximately 2:00 p.m. on January 29, 1977. Richard took both Lisa and Susan and the two brand new snow saucers we had bought them for Christmas and headed up the hill.

I stayed at the car because I wanted to put my boots on before I went up the hill. I was all ready to go up and I see Richard coming toward me with Lisa in his arms.

I asked what was wrong and just about that time, her head rolled over his shoulder exposing the other side of her head and I saw all the blood.

I started shaking like a leaf and I couldn’t get the car key in the lock at first.

Richard had put Lisa on one of the saucers (he almost let them go down together with Susan sitting in front of Lisa, but thought maybe it would be better to let Lisa go down and then he would take Susan down with him.)

Her saucer hit a patch of ice and took off sideways into a tree.

He ran down to her and when he got there, he could see her eyes were just blank and her head was all bloody. He took off running toward the car, completely forgetting about Susan until a lady grabbed her up and ran after Richard asking if he wanted her to watch Susan for him.

He said he would take her, too, and ran to the car. After I got the car open, he put Susan in her car seat and I took Lisa on my lap and we took off for the hospital.

We didn’t have any way to call an ambulance so we just drove like a bat out of hell trying to get to the hospital as fast as we could.

Richard was blowing the horn and trying to get around everyone. I remember at one point we even drove up on the sidewalk to get around the cars in front of us.

Finally, a police man pulled alongside and told us to pull over. We told him what had happened and he told us he would lead us to the hospital. No lights, no siren, at normal speed. I was about crazy by that time and couldn’t believe he wasn’t taking us with lights and siren.

We got to Barton Memorial Hospital about 2:15 p.m. and Richard carried Lisa and I had Susan and they were so good to us.

They took her right in with no questions at all. I was going with them when the officer stopped me and said I had to answer questions for him and fill out forms. I lost it and told him my daughter was dying and he could answer his own questions. I was so scared and so mad at him, it’s a wonder I didn’t smack him 🙂 I learned later that his wife was a nurse at Barton Memorial Hospital.

You arrived about 2:30 p.m. and told us that there wasn’t a lot of hope because depressed fractures, that severe, were almost always fatal.

You started her surgery about 2:45 p.m. and she came out of surgery at 7:45 p.m. We were able to see her right away and she was conscious and knew us right away.

We asked her how she felt and she said, “Fine.” She then asked if she could sit up and when could she eat. She had a pressure monitor to check for edema in the brain, an IV (cutdown in her ankle), two drains from her brain, an EKG monitor, a Foley catheter and a nasal gastric tube.

She stayed stable with all vital signs normal through that first night.

On Jan. 30 she was stable and vitals were normal all day

On January 31 at 9:45 a.m. you clamped her drains and the pressure steadily climbed all day. At midnight you drained her Hemovac, [Vacuum blood drainage resivoir] released the clamp and sat her up for 10 min.

She sat erect for 10 minutes unaided, head held up and not wobbly. (She had a shot of codeine about 10 minutes before you did that.) The pressure went down and you reclamped the drains. Pressure remained very steady at about 65 all day. Her dosage of Cortisone was also reduced. She was still receiving 6 grams of Ampicillin daily and Dilantin.

You decided she should be flown to Moffatt Hospital in San Francisco, where CT brain scanning was available.

On February 2 at 6:30 a.m. Schaefer Air Service flew her with a nurse. The plane was 2 hours late taking off because of icing on the wings.

We had taken off to drive to San Francisco and were scared because the plane didn’t arrive until 10:30 a.m. She was stable on the plane but threw up because of turbulence.

She had a CT Scan at Moffatt and everything looked normal. She was down to just an IV, no monitors of any kind. She sat up twice that day and had juice, soda, jello and broth and kept it all down.

She could lay on her back, stomach and side and could turn her head from side to side. She could also raise up on her elbows by herself. She said she felt a lot better but was tired. But, she had had a long day with lots of tests and exams.

Dr. Wilson saw her and thought she was doing great and could probably have the Cranioplasty sooner than expected. She had the Cranioplasty on April 4, 1977 and came home on April 8.

She was back in school within two weeks of the accident wearing her helmet to protect her head where the bone was missing. I used to glue bows on her helmet to match her outfits 🙂

Lisa was just barely 5 years old when the accident happened, and turned 5 on February 23rd.”