‘Going to lose everything’: Abilene man recovering after being crushed by falling tree


CLYDE, Texas (KTAB/KRBC) – An Abilene man is recovering in Fort Worth after a tree fell on him in Clyde.

A relationship formed at first touch, Chad and Rachel Wristen have been together for more than 10 years.

They met at a Buffalo Wild Wings when Rachel was a server and Chad was a karaoke DJ.

Rachel said she helped clean up a spilled drink by Chad’s setup, and touched hands both reaching for a napkin.

She said it was love at first sight.

They quickly got together after that, and voila, 10 years and four kids later, they are happily married.

Chad left his job in Austin to move to Abilene to be with Rachel, and started his own lawn care service with two of his best friends.

He said that business was booming, as he was making significantly more than his other job and everything was going well.

That is until Chad and his two best friends were called out to Clyde to help get a fallen tree off of a duplex, when things went downhill quickly after that.

Chad said he remembers the strap snapping vividly.

“It was a real loud pop,” Chad said. “It sounded like a gunshot.”

Chad tried getting out of the way, but it fell too fast, and struck his lower back and pelvis.

Chad said that they had already cut portions off of the tree prior to it falling, and that’s what saved his life.

He had managed to find space between two logs, preventing the tree from crushing anymore than his lower half.

“I couldn’t feel my legs,” Chad said. “And all I could think about was I was going to lose everything.”

A total of 1,200 pounds laid atop Chad Wristen.

While the ambulances arrived, Chad managed to wiggle free from the tree’s weight and free himself from that pressure.

Although Rachel was the first to know, she was still unaware of the severity of the injuries he had suffered.

“My heart exploded,” Rachel said.

As she arrived to the scene, she approached her husband lying in the ambulance, seemingly lifeless.

“He didn’t have that same feeling in his eyes that I see every day,” Rachel said through tears.

The fear of living life without her husband crept into her mind. Not just for herself, but also their four boys.

“I just kept thinking, ‘I couldn’t do life without him,'” Rachel said. “Like, the kids and I need him more than anything.”

Chad was flown from Abilene to Fort Worth due to the severity of his injuries, with his pelvis broken in four separate spots.

While he arrived at the hospital, Rachel worked on getting to Fort Worth. She left the kids with nearby family members, packed her things and headed east, getting to see her husband with only five minutes left in visitation hours.

She was alone in her hotel room, fearful thoughts swirling through her mind as she sat in silence awaiting answers on her husband’s health.

Rachel vowed that she wouldn’t leave his side, and stuck by it, except for one day to go see the kids.

“I love being here,” Rachel said. “From the moment my eyes open to the moment they literally have to make me leave.”

Chad said it’s a relief and a joy to have his best friend by his side, and said the one day she was away was the worst day in his recovery so far.

“It was my absolute worst day.” Chad said.

But now, they are on the road to recovery, with almost a year of rehabilitation until he’s even allowed to walk with a cane.

If you would like to help the Wristens, click this link for more information.

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