A Redwood County man who was pinned under a tree for more than four days has survived the ordeal and will likely be able to keep both legs, authorities said Thursday.
Jonathan Ceplecha, 59, was cutting down oak trees on his Redwood Falls property with a chain saw when a tree fell on him. The tree pinned both of his legs beneath it, according to a Redwood County Sheriff’s Office news release.
According to Ceplecha’s GoFundMe page, “In a split second … both of his legs were suddenly pinned down under an immovable log and his upper torso was now semi-twisted as he sat upright on the ground. His legs were broken instantly and he was in enormous pain, but with no phone on him and because he lives alone, there was nobody to hear or see him.”
Four days later, the GoFundMe page said, Ceplecha’s ex-wife found him after his family became worried. The school where Ceplecha teaches had also requested a welfare check after Ceplecha didn’t show up for the first day of classes Monday.
Just before 4 p.m. on Monday, the Redwood County Sheriff’s Office received a 911 call saying that a tree had fallen on a person.
When rescue personnel from the Redwood Falls Fire Department and Redwood County Sheriff’s Office arrived, they learned that Ceplecha had been stuck under the tree since the previous Thursday — more than 100 hours in all. It took two hours to free Ceplecha, who was then airlifted from the scene, the news release said.
During those four days he was trapped, Ceplecha “ate plants and insects within arm’s reach, drank sweat and rainwater that he collected in his clothes, and covered his head in his shirt during the nights to keep the insects off as he slept,” his GoFundMe page said.
It goes on to say that he “kept his sanity” by breaking down each day into hours, and then dividing each hour into five-minute segments.
He prayed often and kept his mind busy, the page said, by meditating and “inventing rhythms to follow” while the sun was up.
Ceplecha was taken to Hennepin Healthcare’s intensive care unit in Minneapolis. His legs will likely be saved, but his feet are in poor shape, the page said.
There’s a long road ahead for Ceplecha, it added.
“He is a true survivor in every sense of the word,” the page says, adding that Ceplecha is an Army veteran and father.
Ceplecha teaches English at Marshall Area Technical and Educational Center, an alternative high school in Marshall, Minn.