Asked by her husband Carl Anderson what she wanted to do for her birthday— June 23— Missy Anderson said she wanted to go out for supper and a motorcycle ride. They went out for supper, but didn’t go out for that ride, due to windy conditions, so they decided to postpone it until the next day— June 24.
That day, Missy was making cookies for a wedding and Carl asked if she wanted to go for that motorcycle ride, saying it was a nice day.
Missy said if she finished baking the cookies then yes. He said okay and he would go outside to do some chores and come back. So, they went for that ride on their 2001 Harley Davidson— a ride they purchased about a month before.
On this ride, they made it to Argyle and Carl asked Missy if she wanted to go to Warren, at the time only being 5 pm. She said sure and they headed that way. They would soon encounter an incident that would change their lives. The rural Strandquist couple talked about this incident, the impact it has had on them, and the support they have received along their journey back.
Meeting six motorcycles on the other side of the road, a car behind these motorcycles pulled out quick to see if it could pass the motorcycles. Carl noticed the vehicle in their lane— not seeing Missy and Carl coming. Having about five seconds to react, he said, Carl moved the motorcycle to the side of the road to avoid a head-on collision in case that vehicle was going to continue to pass. The vehicle didn’t pass and did pull back into its lane, but it was too late for Missy and Carl.
“He’s trying to drive the white light and trying to not hit the shoulder. And he is slowing the throttle down, tapping the brakes, slowing the throttle, tapping the brake trying to keep us on the road, while the back tire went off into the shoulder,” Missy said, “and we fish tailed and fish tailed and fish tailed and fish tailed. Then all I remember is going over his head, and I’m screaming as I’m going over and he’s yelling something. And then the next thing I remember is waking up in the ditch and I knew I had broke my wrist right away.”
The back tire of the motorcycle had hit a divot in a crossing and that’s when Missy had flown over Carl’s head and 40 feet from the motorcycle. She remembered the motorcycle flipping towards her while lying in the ditch, but said she must have passed out again, not remembering anything for an unclear amount of time. She woke up again and began to wonder where Carl was.
“I yelled, ‘I’m like hun, hun.’ No answer. He wasn’t talking and I thought, ‘Oh my gosh.’ I stood up, fell down, stood up, I fell down. I stood up, like six times that happened to me,” Missy said. “Finally, the sixth time I said, ‘You got to stand up,’ I told myself, and then I finally stood up and I could see him.”
Carl was lying on his back about 20 feet back from Missy. She ran to him, but Carl was unresponsive. Missy kept poking his face and at the same time took her phone out of her pocket and called 911. She continued to try to wake him, saying “hon, hon, hon,” but Carl still was not talking.
He finally did roll over and began crying, moaning, and groaning. He got up on his knees and stretched. Missy told him to lie down, unsure exactly what was wrong with him.
The ambulance arrived to the couple, at the bottom of a ditch. At that time, Carl had crawled to the field and was lying there, not even realizing this. They got into the ambulance and were taken to Warren.
“Thank God that we were that close,” Missy said, “because if we would have been any further out, he wouldn’t have made it.”
Carl’s spleen had blown up inside his body. He had lost three units of blood in Warren. A trauma team from Altru in Grand Forks came and got him. When he got there, he had a massive blood transfusion, requiring eight units.
He then went into emergency surgery before Missy even arrived at Altru. During that time, they removed his spleen and kept him open overnight to watch for more internal bleeding. Everything turned out fine there and they closed him up a couple days later.
After these two surgeries, he also required a surgery to put screws and plates in his right arm, having broken it. His two C-vertebrae in his neck are fractured, his T-5 vertebrae is broken, and his two L-vertebrae are fractured in the lower back. He also suffered multiple rib fractures, a cracked sternum, a few marks on his head and face— road rash.
So far, Missy has come out of this with a broken arm, but during a September 9 interview, she mentioned an issue with her arm. She said that if her therapy isn’t working, she may have to get an MRI to see if it’s an issue related to muscles or nerves.
“Thank God that’s all that happened to me,” Missy said.
After 13 days— 8 of those in ICU— and 8 different rooms at Altru, Carl returned home, but they have a long journey ahead. Carl received word from their primary doctor of March 2022 as a possible part-time return to work time.
They are hopeful to make full recoveries, but still have therapy and many future appointments— about a couple every week. This week, they have four appointments.
Currently wearing a back brace, Carl will find out more about his back on October 6— what Missy referred to as the “biggest one.” At the last appointment, they found out Carl’s T-5 was collapsed, something doctors don’t want to see, being it’s so close to the spinal cord.
Through it all, they remain thankful for what they still have, including the opportunity to still walk on their yard and see their surroundings, and visit with family and friends, including time with their three grandchildren: Lola, three, Josie, one and a half, and Emberleigh, two weeks. They also have another grandchild on the way. Carl’s new thing these days is watching the cows with those grandchildren.
“It’s amazing, and, you know what, you also see that differently,” Missy said about the time with family. “… You just slow down and you take the time for all that. And you realize what’s important and what’s not important.”
Interested in still showing support for this couple? They have a Venmo account set up to provide financial support and they do have a Caring Bridge site up to allow people to provide them well wishes. Cards can also be sent to their address: 23523 420th St. NW, Strandquist, MN, 56758.
Missy reminded couples to love unconditionally, enjoy every minute with each other and never take a hug for granted. She can’t wait for the day when she can give Carl a big hug.
“We literally had angels watching over us,” Missy said. “We really did.”
To see the complete story, read the September 16 issue of the North Star News or the September 22 issue of The Tribune in print or online.