Prosthetic leg lost by Ariel Rigney found by Eric Gantner—under the river

Prosthetic leg lost by Ariel Rigney found by Eric Gantner—under the river

A Portland woman has been reunited with her prosthetic leg after it was lost in the Clackamas River.

On July 27, Ariel Rigney and several friends came to McIver State Park to float the river in celebration of her 32nd birthday.

“Every year, I like to do a birthday float,” Rigney said, as reported by KGW 8.

Rigney’s leg was lost below the knee after a car crash when she was a teenager. Her prosthetic leg has made it possible for her to stay active. “I can still swim, hike, bike and run,” she said.

Despite having a prosthetic leg, Rigney floated the river. However, the bungee cord that attached her prosthetic leg to the raft came undone.

“We just hit a big bump and the leg went pfrewwww!” said Jacob Morton, Rigney’s friend who attempted to save Rigney’s leg. “It became pretty obvious pretty quickly that we didn’t have the resources to get the leg.”

Rigney thought that there was no way to retrieve it.

“I just saw it bobbing and I’m like, ‘No!’ I felt more ridiculous than anything. Like, who loses a leg, twice?” she said.

A friend of hers suggested posting about her lost prosthetic on Facebook.

A day later, Eric Gantner from Tigard went snorkeling in the Clackamas River near McIver State Park. He was not aware of Rigney’s lost leg.

Gantner has found lots of thingamabobs in the Clackamas.

“You find all kinds of stuff down there,” Gantner said. “It’s crazy.”

He first saw a rainbow-colored Keens sandal, then realized it was attached to a prosthetic leg.

“When you see that, you’re like uh, what? What is that?” Gantner said. “I go, ‘So, somebody had a really bad day.’”

When Gantner returned home, he searched Facebook for leads.

“I searched, ‘Lost leg Clackamas River,’ and sure enough this came up,” Gantner said. He sent Rigney a message.

“He was like, ‘Hey, I was snorkeling the Clackamas, saw your post about the leg. I think I found it?’” Rigney said. “I was like, that’s it!”

In the evening on July 28th, the two met each other. Gantner gave Rigney her leg and Rigney purchased a beer for Gantner.

“It was nice,” Rigney said. “I’m really glad he was willing to sit and chat and hang out, as opposed to just, ‘Here’s the leg, OK, bye.”

Gantner was glad to chat.

“I was like, ‘There’s a story behind this. I gotta hear about your day!’”

The prosthetic was found, and so was a friendship.

“I just can’t get over it,” Rigney said. “I feel very charmed.”

Read the story and watch an interview with Rigney and Gantner here.

Read Rigney’s Facebook post about her experience here.












24-year-old who died in a race crash leaves behind a legacy of service

24-year-old who died in a race crash leaves behind a legacy of service

Peter Lutz was hesitant about riding his son’s motorcycle.

Not even a week had passed since 24-year-old Pearce Lutz passed away in a Seattle hospital June 16 from injuries received in a racing crash.

After the crash, his friends added neon green fairings bearing No. 105 from the newer bike Pearce was riding when he crashed. That same motorcycle was the one Pearce rode when he achieved a much sought-after championship in 2018. His friends desired it to be a memorial to the paramedic from Keizer who devoted his life to serving others.

The scrape marks on the Kawasaki were reminders of lessons Pearce learned when he began road racing over that past few years.

The Life Flight decal represented the helicopter service that carried Pearce from remote Ridge Motorsports Park in Shelton, Washington to Harborview Hospital in Seattle.

Relatives and friends of Pearce Lutz arrived at Portland International Raceway for the Oregon Motorcycle Road Racing Association’s Lap of Honor.

Peter Lutz hadn’t been on a motorcycle since his son’s infancy, but just before the riders were called to the grid, he decided: Pearce would have desired him to ride.

He requested his son’s mentor, Cody Cochran, who jump-started an online fundraiser that raised over $27,000 to assist in paying for Pearce’s care, for a helmet to borrow.

Peter Lutz moved up to the front of the grid to join the dozens of other riders.

Pearce Lutz

“I think it helped other people, too, to see his bike back out there,” Peter Lutz said, as reported by The Statesman Journal.

A memorial service for Pearce was held on June 29 at Salem Armory.

From the beginning, Pearce Lutz was motivated to serve others.

He was raised in Salem, earned his EMT certification at 18 and began working for Rural Metro in Eugene. He ended up in the residency program with Polk County Fire District, and then went back to Chemeketa Community College’s paramedicine program and was hired as a paramedic for Falck Salem.

Pearce followed in the footsteps of his mother, a nurse at Salem Hospital, into the medical field, but racing was his own idea.

He bought his first motorcycle when he was 19 and racing turned into a passion of his.

He was interested in road racing when he learned about the OMRRA and offered to be a corner worker at races in Portland.

He wasn’t content.

His first race took place in the 2017 season, and he was excited, but his start was not promising.

He crashed on the first of the two-day program. Despite this, he recovered, and came back the next day placing second in the race. However, he crashed on the cool-down lap.

“He had a concussion,” his mother Pennie said. “He was fine, nothing major.”

The reason for his crash was that a wheel bearing had frozen, making the rear wheel lock up, something that required new parts to fix.

“It was enough he didn’t have the money and the time to fix it to race for the rest of the year,” Peter Lutz said.

Pearce’s family had grown accustomed to gathering at races. His then-girlfriend Brooke Wolkenhauer, a respiratory therapist at Salem Hospital, would also join them.

Lutz got back on the track in 2018, and regardless of a steep learning curve, he won his first race his fourth time out and earned his spot on the podium late in the season.

Heading into the last event, he had a tight points battle with Jeffery Toevs, competing for the 600 Novice championship. It was the last event and Pearce needed to win each race at P.I.R. to win the title.

He just barely edged out Toevs at the finish line to win the first race and was behind Toevs a few laps into the next race. But Toevs was slowed down by a crash, which provided a chance for Pearce to pass him. He placed second and won the championship.

“All last year, no wrecks,” Peter Lutz said. “He did great.”

Pearce Lutz was itching for tougher competition.

After doing well as a novice road racer, he moved up to the 600 Supersport class in the OMRRA competition.

He showed potential when he won the 600 Sportsman class in April at Pacific Raceways in Kent, Washington. He was ecstatic, looking forward to his race on June 8 at The Ridge Motorsports Park, which is a technical road course situated on the western fringes of the Puget Sound, 30 miles northwest of Olympia.

But then he crashed again while attempting to avoid another rider who was having difficulties. Lutz was tossed through the air and landed hard.

He was conscious when medical workers got to him, and when Peter Lutz reached his son, Pearce said to him, “The first thing that went through my mind as I was flying through the air is that Brooke is going to be pissed.”

Lutz had fractures in his femur, pelvis, clavicle and ribs, injuries characteristic of a severe accident like his.

He spoke with Wolkenhuer—whom he had recently became engaged to during a hike on Black Butte—and had a phone interaction with his mother who was still in Salem, before he was whisked away on a Life Flight helicopter headed to Seattle.

However, before the helicopter arrived at Harborview Hospital, Lutz showed signs of a seizure. The helicopter was forced to touch ground in Bremerton so medics could intubate him.

Lutz’s situation was worse than the medics suspected.

The fracture in his femur produced fat emboli syndrome. An emboli from his bone marrow had made its way through Pearce’s blood vessels and had penetrated his lungs.

The doctors discovered an originally undetected congenital heart defect, and the fat emboli withheld the flow of blood to his brain, which caused brain damage. They performed several surgeries on Lutz to set the femur fracture and decrease the pressure on his brain.

But the brain damage was too drastic. Lutz did not regain consciousness after he boarded the helicopter.

Paramedics are not supposed to share about the details of those they serve, not even with their families.

Lutz followed the rules to the dot.

“Hey, I helped somebody” or “This is the best shift ever” about a night serving at Willamette Speedway was all that Pearce would tell his family.

Those that worked with Pearce told stories of how he went the extra mile during shifts for Falck, to assist EMTs working on skills necessary to become paramedics. They spoke of calls when Pearce picked up a patient and drove them to the hospital. He would not just drop them off and leave to wait for another call. He would stay and wait with them till they were given the care they required.

“We didn’t get to hear what he did and the lives he touched,” Pennie Lutz said.

His parents had to take their son off life support, which was difficult.

Lutz’s organs were donated and given to other patients, and medical staff found exact matches for his kidneys, liver, and some heart valves.

“It’s very fitting,” Pennie Lutz said. “We knew he would want that. There was really no question he would have wanted that. That’s how he was.”

The tributes that influenced his family the most were the stories told about him. Seeing his father on his motorcycle impacted everyone present that day.

As the riders began their Lap of Honor, officials passed out racing flags to the friends and well-wishers so that they could wave them at the front stretch wall while the group of riders—many who Lutz raced alongside—passed by.

Tears were shed when the spectators noticed that Pearce’s father was leading the procession.

“At the end of the straight when we went by on the official lap, Cody (Cochran) just pulls a wheelie up and takes off on a wheelie towards the corner,” said Larry Lulay, a friend of Pearce. “And Peter, on Pearce’s bike, chases him.”

See The Statesman Journal’s story here.









Shirley Radecki, age 90, wins gold in the National Senior Games

Shirley Radecki, age 90, wins gold in the National Senior Games

Do you see yourself skydiving, bungee jumping, or hiking 14,000 feet up Mount Kilimanjaro when you are 90 years old? That’s exactly what Shirley Radecki has done.

Radecki, who lives in Eugene, most recently traveled to Albuquerque, New Mexico. There she participated in the 90-94 age group as a swimmer in the 2019 National Senior Games. She won a gold medal in the women’s 50-yard backstroke and a silver medal in the women’s 100-yard backstroke.

“It was pretty nice,” Radecki said, as reported by The Register-Guard. “Pretty impressive.”

Her only competition in her age group was Sara Sievert from Texas. Because of this, they took turns taking the win. Sievert won the gold in the 100-yard backstroke and silver in the 50-yard backstroke.

“We were just a few seconds apart really,” Radecki said. “She was pretty good competition.”

The event was Radecki’s second time competing, and her first time receiving a medal, save the state qualifiers in 2018.

She competed in the 100-yard breaststroke as well. However, she was disqualified because she did not touch both hands on the wall or use proper leg form.

It all started for Radecki at the 2018 Oregon Senior Games in Bend. It was there that she qualified for the national games. In the beginning, Radecki was uncertain if she wanted to compete. But her daughter, Shaundele Leatherberry, convinced her that it would be a good thing to do.

Last year, Radecki spent her time training and preparing for the competition. She trained at the River Road Park and Recreation pool with the help of her coach. She ate peanut butter and banana toast, and practiced swims and water aerobics two times every week.

Her daughter said it was important for her mother to be around more people her age that could keep up with her.

“She’s around a lot of people her age that don’t do anything,” Leatherberry said. “I wanted her to be around more active seniors and really have something to work toward.”

Even though she has tight competition in the pool, Radecki said she’s not a competitive person, she just keeps an extremely active lifestyle.

“I guess I do my best,” said Radecki, who also has two sons. “But I’m not gung-ho or anything like that.”

Leatherberry said her mother tends to downplay her abilities. Participating in the games showed her that even at 90 years old she could still be an athlete.

“There were signs that said, ‘welcome athletes,’” Leatherberry said. “I think people at that age have an image of themselves and things like this help them work toward something, and better themselves.”

Radecki acknowledged that credit goes to her daughter for getting her involved in the games. She said that most of her adventures have happened because her daughter did them first. In the last five years, Radecki went skydiving at 85 and climbed 14,000 feet up Mount Kilimanjaro at 87. To top it all off, she’s also been bungee jumping in New Zealand.

She already got the gold, but Radecki has no plans for slowing down. Her goal is to skydive again when she turns 95. Currently, she swims often and golfs twice a week.

“I mean, what else am I going to do?” Radecki said. She has been married two times, widowed once and reconnected in her late 70s with a childhood sweetheart who later passed away. “I don’t want to go out to lunches, that’s too boring. It’s just good to have things to do.”

When it comes to living a long and happy life, Radecki said she’s been lucky to have her health and a supportive family.

“You know it’s important to eat healthy, stay active and do what you do best,” Radecki said. “But having a good relationship with my family has been really special.”

Leatherberry said that while she is her mother’s biggest cheerleader, she wants people to know what a great person she is.

“She’s always lived a really healthy lifestyle and has really taken care of herself,” Leatherberry said. “She really deserves her day in the sun.”

The 2021 National Senior Games are projected to take place in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Radecki said she’s not sure if she’ll compete again. She plans to focus on things one day at a time at this point.

“I don’t want to make predictions, so we’ll have to see,” Radecki said. “But if my daughter is at it and wants to, then I’d do it, too.”

Read The Register-Guard’s story here.

Mount Kilimanjaro






16-year-old Bend runner headed to the Youth Skyrunning World Championships in Italy

16-year-old Bend runner headed to the Youth Skyrunning World Championships in Italy

Dan Simoneau uses multiple activities to increase the fitness of his Nordic skiers during the summer and fall.

Simoneau, the Nordic director for the Mt. Bachelor Sports Education Foundation, said that running uphill is the purest measure of fitness.

One of his athletes, 16-year-old Jeffrey Bert, is taking things to a higher level. Later this summer, Bert, who is a Summit High junior-to-be, will go to Italy to participate in the Youth Skyrunning World Championships.

Skyrunning is defined by the International Skyrunning Federation as mountain running at an elevation higher than 2,000 meters (about 6,562 feet) with an incline of more than 30%. It was founded in 1992 by a collection of mountaineers in the Italian Alps. Currently, according to the ISF it has more than 50,000 racers across 65 countries.

Bert became interested in this type of trail running when he was running during the previous couple of summers. He had been trying to stay in shape for the Nordic ski season.

“Every camp we do, we do an uphill run as a test,” Simoneau said of his Nordic teams. “And Jeffrey’s been helping me to find the hardest climbs. Going uphill is just a pure measure of fitness. What’s your aerobic capacity? Jeffrey and I will sit there with a map, ‘OK, where do we have big hills and where are the trails?’ He knows them all. He’s run them all.”

Bert has been a part of the MBSEF Nordic team for five years, and he has participated in the Junior Olympics in cross-country skiing the past two winters. He began going out on extended training runs that were 13 to 15 miles long during the summertime. He also attended the Max King Trail Running Camp the past two summers. The camps were held near Mount Hood in 2017 and near Lake Tahoe, California, in 2018. They were organized by King, the renowned pro runner from Bend.

“That was an amazing opportunity that I got to be a part of,” Bert said. “I just had an incredible experience. It was a really enjoyable camp to just start my interest in trail running.”

Bert has completed three ultramarathons – Races that are longer than the normal distance of 26.2 miles. Recently, he placed 16th out of 171 finishers in the 13.3-mile Mt. Ashland Hill Climb in Southern Oregon. He was 16th out of 311 finishers in the Smith Rock Ascent 15-mile run on May 19.

Though he was a cross country athlete as a freshman at Summit, Bert said he did not continue as a sophomore because he wanted to focus on longer-distance trail running.

He applied to participate in the Youth Skyrunning World Championships. Competitors must pay their own way. He added to his application the outcomes of his various races in addition to a few essays and a recommendation from King.

The site of the world championships is situated in the Apennine Mountains, L’Aquila, just a 90-minute drive from Rome. Bert would participate in two races at the world event. The first one, on Aug. 2, is a vertical kilometer that contains 1,000 meters of elevation gain that spans less than 5 kilometers. The second race, to be held on Aug. 4, is a 15-kilometer race through comparable terrain. The trails in this event are extremely technical.

Bert said he found out about skyrunning through a friend of a friend on his Nordic team.

“And then just looking it up online, I realized it took my strengths and it was something that I could go with,” he says. “It’ll be some brutal competition, but I’m really excited for it because it’s what I’ve been training for.”

Bert said he has spent a lot of time training at Smith Rock State Park near Terrebonne, where typically he can find lots of elevation gain without any snow. As the summer progresses and the snow melts in the Central Oregon Cascades, he plans for additional training runs up South Sister, Mount Bachelor and Tumalo Mountain.

Bert’s father is a commercial pilot. Jeffrey, his parents, and his sister Heidi, who is 14, have enjoyed hiking and backpacking trips in various places worldwide. While on those trips, Bert has gone on long trail runs in countries such as France, Switzerland, Chile, New Zealand and Tasmania.

“It’s amazing for training, and you see such a variety of trails,” Bert said of traveling.

Bert’s family intends to make the trip to Italy to watch him race and then to travel around Europe after the races.

“We just love traveling and love seeing the world,” Bert said.

Bert’s long-term career goal is to go into sports medicine. He said he hopes to attend college in a mountain town where he can continue to pursue Nordic skiing, and of course, trail running.

“He’s just an aspirational kid when it comes to doing stuff,” Simoneau said. “He just wants to be better at whatever he does. It’s pretty cool. Whatever he chooses to do, he’s going to be really good at.”

Read the full story here.


Baby with spinal bifida born healthy after experimental surgery in the womb

Baby with spinal bifida born healthy after experimental surgery in the womb

To address his spina bifida, surgery was performed on Baby Royer while he was still in the womb. His story gives hope to the families of babies in the womb that suffer from that birth defect.

Royer was born in January after a surgery was completed in the womb in September. His future looks good.

The New York Times reported that Royer was born with a “feisty spirit,” kicking and screaming. His parents, Lexi and Joshuwa Royer, were told by doctors that these were great signs for a child with spina bifida.

“It was so worth it,” Lexi Royer told the newspaper. “I’d do it again in a heartbeat. That’s for sure.”

The report also said:

He arrived pink and screaming on Friday at 5:35 a.m., two days before his official due date, weighing 8 pounds 8 ounces, and almost 20 inches long.

Within moments of his birth at Texas Children’s Hospital, he did what his parents and doctors had eagerly hoped to see: He moved his legs and feet, a sign that the operation may have prevented damage to the spinal nerves needed for walking.

Indeed, placed on his belly, he managed to pull a knee underneath himself and push off, as if he intended to crawl away from the nurses who were trying to swaddle him.

The surgeon in chief at the hospital, Dr. Larry Hollier, said he was very pleased with how baby Royer looked at birth.

“I’ve never seen such a big defect successfully repaired, with the child moving his feet at birth,” Hollier said. “It’s unbelievable. If this is the cost of getting that closed — just having to do a little skin operation — it’s fantastic.”

In 2018, Lexi Royer told The New York Times that doctors tried to pressure her to have an abortion when her unborn son was diagnosed with spina bifida. Lexi Royer refused, and instead she and her husband started researching and found doctors at Texas Children’s Hospital that were willing to try to remedy baby Royer’s situation.

That September, the unborn boy and his mother had experimental fetal surgery while the child was still in the womb. The doctors made small cuts in his mother’s uterus, using a camera and surgical tools to fix the gap in his spine.

According to Dr. Michael Belfort, a surgeon at Baylor in Houston, Texas, fetal surgery helps decrease the damage to the spine while the baby is still in the womb. He said that the amniotic fluid eats away at the nerve tissue in the gap of the spine, which makes it important to close the gap before birth.

Belfort said they typically perform the surgery 24 weeks into the pregnancy, because if something goes wrong, there is a better chance the baby will survive outside the womb.

The technique has only recently been implemented, but doctors have been performing in-utero surgery for spina bifida and other ailments for years in the United States, according to Life News. The National Institute of Health’s Management of Myelomeningocele Study (MOMS) discovered that closing the spinal defect in utero limited the need for shunts after birth and increased the child’s chances of walking by themselves. Doctors also speculate that the procedure might reduce the odds of learning disabilities as well.   

In 2014, LifeNews reported British doctors performed the first in-utero surgery on an unborn baby girl who also had spina bifida. The surgery went well, and in December 2016, 14-month-old Frankie was overcoming her disability and learning to walk, The Express reports. 

Recently, at least 13 hospitals in the U.S. have conducted fetal surgery on unborn babies that have spina bifida.

Researchers estimate that 64 percent of unborn children who are diagnosed with spina bifida are eliminated by abortion. Now there is reason to have hope for unborn babies with the ailment.

(The LifeNews article has the incorrect statistic. 64% of unborn children who are diagnosed with spina bifida are aborted, not 68.)

Read the full story here.



Young man mentored by police officer who arrested him

Young man mentored by police officer who arrested him

Over six years ago, Rameil Pitamber was a 17-year old honor student who was dealing with the death of his father.

“I was lost. I had a lot to prove. And I felt like to prove it, I had to be tough,” Pitamber said, as reported by CBS News. “I was a follower, and one poor decision led to the next.”

Pitamber robbed a Little Caesars restaurant at gunpoint, with the assistance of a friend who worked there. He was detained and convicted of a felony armed robbery and criminal confinement. He was sentenced to 11 years in prison.

“I didn’t believe it. I just started crying immediately,” said Pitamber’s mother, Daphne Harris. “My son, robbin’ someone […] that just wasn’t his character.”

The officer who arrested Pitamber, Brian Nugent, remembers the arrest well, and said that Pitamber was “memorable.” Nugent is a deputy police chief in Avon, Indiana.

During her son’s imprisonment, Harris made sure to stay in contact with Nugent.

“I needed him to know that he wasn’t just another kid in trouble,” Harris said. “I needed him to know that, you know, he has a home, he has a family, he has a support system. This is who my son is.”

Pitamber was released prematurely because of good behavior, and he desired to get into home improvement and real estate. But he wanted a mentor to help him. While he was working at Goodwill one day, Pitamber recognized Nugent when he dropped off a donation.

“I just asked him. Like, ‘Hey, are you Detective Brian?’ Pitamber recalled. “I was just like, ‘Hey, it’s me. How you doing?’”

The fact that Nugent was a police officer meant a lot to Pitamber. “My goal was to not go back to prison. But I didn’t 100% know what to do to not go back to prison,” he said. “And I knew that he knew that.”

Nugent said he told Pitamber that he’d be “happy to do it.” But there were guidelines: “we’re gonna touch base every month. We’re gonna go out for lunch. We’re gonna have conversations.”

Nugent and Pitamber talked about finding a job and answering questions skillfully about his past. After having conversations with Nugent, Pitamber said that he saw things this way: “If I view myself as less then Rameil, than I’m less than Rameil…. I can’t be mad at you [if you] treat me how I treat myself.”

“I’m not ex-convict. I’m not just black. I’m not just Pakistani. I’m Rameil,” he added.

The guidance from Nugent changed Pitamber’s mind about cops. Growing up, he said, he was taught “Never to talk to ‘em, never to trust ‘em,” and that “They lie, they arrest you.” But now he’s had firsthand experience, and “that’s not the case.”

“I hope that people can see, with everything that is going on, is all it takes is respect on both sides,” Harris said. “It’s more good kids out there than bad. It’s more good police out there than bad.”

Rameil currently has a consistent job doing heating and air. He’s also refurbishing his own home and attending school. “I want something outta life,” he said. “I wanna be successful, and I wanna be truly free.”

“I think the change that I see the most in him is his confidence,” Nugent said. “There’s no better reward in this job than helping somebody succeed and achieve those goals in their life.”

Pitamber is very thankful for his unlikely mentor. “He treated me with compassion and understanding, and he never treated me less than, not once. To this day, he still builds my worth and self-esteem,” he said. “With him in my corner, I can do anything.”

To read the more of about this story and watch a video, click here.