Local Man Recovers From Spinal Injury, Takes FIrst Steps on Mile High Swinging Bridge

Published Monday, December 21, 2015 at 12:49 pm

When it comes to setting goals, Eddie Krider aims high.

Having sustained a spinal injury in 2012, the Boone resident has spent the last three years in rehabilitation, regaining his ability to walk.

Boone resident Eddie Krider crosses the halfway point of Grandfather Mountain’s Mile High Swinging Bridge. On Dec. 8, Krider visited the mountain to take his first unaided steps after recovering from a spinal injury. Photo by Brooke Hughes | Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation.

In early December, he took his recovery to new heights by taking his first unaided steps. And he did so on Grandfather Mountain’s Mile High Swinging Bridge.

“It was unseasonably warm in December, so I thought, ‘Why not?’” he said. “You’ve got to set goals, so what better way than to walk the Mile High Swinging Bridge?”

Krider is no stranger to heights, having worked as a lineman for SkyLine Membership Corporation, a High Country telephone cooperative. When Hurricane Sandy hit North Carolina in fall 2012, Krider, then living in West Jefferson, was called on duty in the early hours of Oct. 30 to assist the Department of Transportation and local firefighters in removing debris from phone lines.

Krider and his crew were working on N.C. Hwy. 88 in Warrensville, where a tree had struck a line and closed the roadway to traffic. Due to the 70-mph winds and blinding snow, Krider didn’t notice a rotten spot that could potentially cause the tree to kick back when cut.

“A 20-foot section broke loose, went end over end in the air and hit me in the back,” Krider said.

The impact shattered his T9 vertebra, broke his ribs and punctured a lung. Furthermore, he was paralyzed from the waist down.

“They came after me in an ambulance, took me to Ashe Memorial and determined I needed to be shipped to Winston-Salem; they couldn’t bring in a chopper because of the hurricane,” Krider recalled.

It’s here that Krider begins to count his blessings.

“It just so happened that the chief of neurosurgery was (at the hospital) on his day off,” he said. “It’s like everything was organized by God.”

Eddie and Maryanne Krider are all smiles during a special visit to Grandfather Mountain. Following three years of rehabilitation from a spinal injury, Eddie Krider decided to use the famous Mile High Swinging Bridge to take his first unassisted steps. Photo by Frank Ruggiero | Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation.

Krider underwent surgery and remained in Winston-Salem for eight days, before being transferred to the Atlanta, Ga.-based Shepherd Center, which specializes in spinal cord and brain injury rehabilitation.

There, he made strides in recovery, benefiting from new technology, physical therapy, weight training and swimming. Just a few months ago, he swam his first mile. Although he’s been ambulatory with the help of a walker, Krider thought it was high time to move without one.

On Dec. 8, he and his wife, Maryanne, set a goal. He traded his wheelchair and walker for the Mile High Swinging Bridge’s handrails and took his first unassisted steps since 2012. Krider walked a quarter of the way across, before using his walker to reach the halfway point.

“I wanted to see what I could do,” he said. “Now, I can’t think of the words to describe it — awesome, very ecstatic.”

Krider, though, refuses to take all the credit.

“By God’s grace, I was able to do it,” he said. “I thank my wife, family, friends and my company, SkyLine.”

The couple plans to return to Grandfather Mountain, so Krider can cross the bridge in its entirety — and then hit some of the trails.

“I’ll set some more goals to see what I can do next time,” he said. “It’s been a really slow process, but I feel really blessed.”

 The not-for-profit Grandfather Mountain Stewardship Foundation strives to inspire conservation of the natural world by helping guests explore, understand and value the wonders of Grandfather Mountain. For more information, call (800) 468-7325, or visit www.grandfather.com to plan a trip.

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