Off-duty doctor saves mountain biker’s life

Published: Sep. 23, 2021 at 10:48 AM MDT|Updated: Sep. 23, 2021 at 10:54 AM MDT
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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) - Two mountain bikers were on the same Minnesota trail, when one of them fell down a ravine and the other just happened to be a doctor who performed a procedure that saved his life.

The challenging trails of Cuyana Lakes are a therapeutic distraction for Todd, who did not provide his last name.

“It’s a huge stress reliever, just with the nature of my job,” the father and corrections officer said.

It’s a place where Jesse Coenen, an emergency room doctor in Hayward, Wisconsin, comes for post-work solace, too.

“Mountain biking is an activity that I enjoy, which is why I happen to be in that spot on that day,” Coenen said.

It was that spot where two strangers’ lives would intertwine.

Todd, an experienced cyclist, took a violent fall near a ravine.

“I was starting to see white spots, and I was like, ‘OK, this isn’t cool, this isn’t normal.’”

Coenen was coming down the trail behind him and approached the hardworking first responders already assisting Todd, who realized Todd wasn’t breathing.

He joined in and tried a technique he’d only trained for, an impromptu tracheotomy.

“That’s an uncommon procedure and when I had the scalpel in my hand, I was hesitant to do that because obviously cutting someone’s neck,” Coenen said. “You’re leaving a scar.”

The procedure was successful, and Todd was flown to a nearby medical center.

He doesn’t remember the doctor, but he does realize how fortunate he is.

“I want to meet the guy,” he said as he recovered from a traumatic brain injury.

So, when Todd was released from the hospital, WCCO-TV arranged for a virtual meeting between the two.

It’s great to know that you’re alive, to be honest. I was not optimistic about the outlook, so being able to sit here and talk with you today, only 10 days later, is really unbelievable,” Coenen said.

Todd expressed how grateful he is to the doctor.

“I can send you the biggest virtual hug that is known to anybody,” Todd said. “It’s kind of like when a kid gets a teddy bear and he’s holding the bear so tight, that is kind of what it feels like right now.”

Just like that a new friendship was made between two bikers who somehow ended up on the same path.

Copyright 2021 WCCO via CNN Newsource. All rights reserved.