Health Plus: Update, Tripoli man in forklift ax - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Health Plus: Update, Tripoli man in forklift ax


Two years ago we told you about a Tripoli man's freak forklift accident and his long road to recovery.

In Health Plus, we check in to see if Charlie got the life back he was working so hard for.

This is how Charlie Heinemann looked almost two years ago.

The then 56-year-old was recovering from a freak accident.

He was driving a forklift in July 2009 when it flipped and trapped him underneath.

"Then I remember yelling out, 'Someone just lift this off of me,' because I thought it would be over and I could get up. Just it's on my legs, get it off of me," he said two years ago during our first interview with him.

It took four surgeries to repair the Tripoli man's crushed arm and legs, not to mention a lot of emotional fortitude.

"In two years, I would say the improvement has been immense certainly with the help of the staff here and all the agencies that worked with me. It's never gonna be a 100 percent like it was. That's all there is to it," he said.

Today hugs from one of his physical therapists at Covenant Medical Center's Rehabilitation Department in Waterloo.

"It's great for me to have the opportunity to see somebody that's come so far 'cause you know initially when I saw him he was a guy that had one good arm and was using a wheelchair. And then when I saw him last he was just starting to walk again," said Emily Mullen, Covenant physical therapist.

Therapy goals helped Charlie focus and commit to progressing.

One of them to play with his grandchildren again.

A picture shows him playing catch with grandson, Conner.

And this one on a ride at Adventureland with his grandson, Jordan.

"The mental goals are just as important as anything you do physically. And just staying, you know, active doing things that really do mean something," he said.

Charlie and his wife are celebrating their 37th wedding anniversary August 17th and the celebration will be that much sweeter for a man who was not guaranteed to ever walk again--a man who returned to being a line judge for Tripoli High School's volleyball team.

"Back to work at Dick's Machine Shop. And back to my part-time job as a drive for Hawkeye Stages. I really enjoy that," he said.

 Charlie says he would not have come this far without the support of so many family members and friends, including people in Tripoli who did everything from mow his lawn to drive him to therapy.

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