By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
A Perdido man died at a Florida hospital shortly after being flown there by medical evacuation helicopter after a truck he was working on reportedly slipped from a jack or set of ramps and fell on him.
Reports show that the man, later identified as 50-year-old Ronnie Whatley, suffered massive trauma of the head and chest and succumbed to the injuries shortly after arrival at Ascension Sacred Heart Pensacola.
Whatley had been airlifted from the scene of the accident, a Johnson Road residence, to the hospital in “very critical condition,” according to reports.
Nokomis Volunteer Fire Department Capt. Jerry Gehman said NVFD personnel and MedStar ambulance crews were dispatched to the rural site around 1:04 p.m.
According to official reports, dispatchers initially radioed that Whatley’s wife Connie reported her husband was “changing a tire when the jack broke, and the truck fell on him.” Connie Whatley later said her husband was changing the oil in his truck, not the tire.
Gehman, the first emergency responder on the scene, said an NVFD officer found a floor jack and was able to use it to lift the truck enough to remove Whatley from beneath it. Connie Whatley said she and Hunter Leino actually pulled the jack off the injured man before rescuers arrived.
“I was going to use airbags to lift the truck, but Tristen [Gehman, an NVFD lieutenant] found the jack and we used that,” said the volunteer captain.
Gehman said four MedStar paramedics worked “15 to 20 minutes” to resuscitate the man and restore a blood pressure, then a flight surgeon from a MedStar air ambulance spent more than an hour performing various medical procedures inside the ground ambulance.
“They made an extraordinary effort, a valiant effort to save this man,” Gehman said. “The crew went beyond protocol to help this man. They did everything they could for him.”
Once he was stabilized enough for flight, Whatley was transferred to the copter and flown to the Pensacola hospital, where medical staff tried in vain to save the critically injured man.
Mr. Whatley’s obituary is on page 3 of this edition of Atmore News.