- Associated Press - Monday, February 9, 2015

RICHLAND, Wash. (AP) - Phil Frazier moved at a snail’s pace as he made his way out of a Prosser physical therapy center, hunched over his walker.

The 41-year-old carpenter had just completed a two-hour rehab session, the latest step in his recovery from a collection of injuries suffered in a 30-foot fall from an interstate overpass.

As Frazier loaded his walker into the back of his small red sedan and prepared to contort his 6-foot-4 frame into the driver’s seat, he offered a parting piece of advice.

“Love life, guys,” he said.

That’s the kind of positive attitude Frazier has adopted as he aggressively attacks his rehabilitation from the near-death experience.

He was clinging to life when rescuers found him in October, hidden in a swampy ditch beneath the overpass. He had stopped on Interstate 82 to see if another driver needed help and fell while avoiding an oncoming car.

The fall left Frazier unable to walk. He shattered his pelvis and broke six ribs, his left wrist and a bone in his shoulder. There were also injuries to his spine, ankles and other shoulder.

He lay under the overpass, partially submerged in ice-cold water, for about an hour and a half before Washington State Trooper Nathan Parent found him. Parent was helped in his search by State Patrol dispatcher Bethany Lynch, who told him to check under the overpass.

Frazier - who some around town now refer to as the Good Samaritan - calls the fact he is alive a miracle.

He recently shared a meal with Lynch and Parent at a Kennewick pizza restaurant to thank them for saving his life. He got a little emotional inside the Prosser rehab center as he told the story of meeting the pair for the first time.

“To hear their side of the story was truly overpowering,” Frazier said. “To have a conversation with the people who saved my life was the best thing that could have happened to me.”

He spent nearly 12 weeks recovering at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle and PMH Medical Center in Prosser. His body is slowly healing, though he battles pain daily. He recently moved home to Prosser with his wife, Wendy, and daughter, Hannah.

Frazier has been rehabbing at PMH Physical Therapy & Rehab for the past couple of weeks. He conveniently lives in a mobile home a few minutes away and spends as much time as possible at the center trying to get his body strong so he can one day get back to work.

When the Herald visited Frazier and his team of therapists, they were in the middle of another daily session. Denise Fulwyler, whom Frazier calls Ms. Denise, worked on his damaged wrist while Joseph Ashton and Robert Mason talked about the progress he has made in the last weeks.

When Frazier first came to the center, he took a test to gauge how far he could walk in six minutes. About two weeks ago he was up to 35 feet. On Tuesday he made it more than 200 feet, and when he took the test two days later he made it more than 400 feet.

“We are really making progress,” Ashton said.

Mason was quick to chime in, “He will do as much or more than you tell him,” he said. “You almost have to tell him to stop.”

Frazier credits the team with giving him another shot at life, he said. When he isn’t rehabbing, he works out his body in other ways - short unassisted walks to the car, getting up to get stuff in the trailer, driving around town.

As Frazier candidly puts it, “everything in life is physical therapy when you’re broken.”

However, every day is still difficult not knowing if he will ever get back to full strength. Frazier hasn’t fully slept through a night since the accident and he has to take medication to combat the constant pain.

But he is driven by his will to be able to provide for his family again doing what he loves, he said. Doctors tell him he won’t be able to return to work as a carpenter due to his injuries.

“They are still still telling me that,” he said. “I just shake their hands and say thanks for the challenge.”

The community has shown amazing support for his family, he said. A GoFundMe account raised $20,000 to help pay bills. Prosser High School and the Prosser Senior Center have done fundraisers and community donations have been overwhelming.

Frazier has no regrets about getting out of the car that night to lend a helping hand, he said. He has made his wife stop a few times since the accident to call a tow truck for people stranded on the side of the road.

He has even returned to the spot of the fall, saying he was pulled there.

And Frazier has even used some of the good fortune from the community to help others. He heard about a man in Prosser who was broke and had no food for himself or his dog. So the Fraziers used some of their money to buy the man food and even dropped it off to him.

“I know what that’s like,” he said. “We were broke once too.”

There’s a reason they call him the Good Samaritan.


Information from: Tri-City Herald, https://www.tri-cityherald.com

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