Bob and Kay Scott had dropped their dogs off at a pet-sitter and on a pretty August Saturday, were looking forward to going over Imogene Pass from Telluride when the unimaginable happened. It’s a story Bob Scott is more than grateful to recount in the days leading up to Thanksgiving.
Near Royer Gulch, their Jeep tumbled 450 feet off Tomboy Road. They could not be seen from the road, but in a last few moments of clarity, the couple had the presence of mind to seek help. Bob fished his phone out of his pants pocket and handed it to Kay, who, after a few tries, was able to place a call to 911. Within 30 minutes, first responders reached the couple, precipitating an arduous, four-hour-long technical rope rescue executed by members of San Miguel County Search and Rescue, various law enforcement officers, medical personnel, including citizen volunteers who happened to be in the area.
The couple, who divide their time between Florida and Montrose, survived, but they each endured concussions and hemorrhaging in the brain, as well as numerous fractures and lacerations. And when it comes to the accident itself, there’s little either of them remember.
“I don’t know why it happened,” Bob said from his home in Florida. “I’m usually a very careful driver. We went tumbling down the mountain. I wish I could remember, but I have no clue.
That they even were able to call for help, according to Susan Lilly, San Miguel County Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer, was certainly a huge stroke of luck.
“It’s a miracle they had a cell signal,” she said in an earlier Daily Planet story.
The Scotts, who were 72 at the time of the accident, had purchased the Jeep a few years ago and loved heading into the high country during their time in Colorado, which, Bob said, is “from April until the leaves are done changing.” Bob is a native of Denver who gravitated to the east coast through education and work. Florida has been the couple’s home for nearly 40 years. But the mountains were in his blood and once he retired, he and Kay purchased a home in Montrose.
“We like to escape the Florida heat in the summer,” he said.
Jeeping brought the Scotts close to nature and into the wilderness they both love.
“I enjoy being off-road, out in the wild,” Bob said. “We enjoy seeing the beauty of nature and creation.”
The road to recovery has been long, but they each are making steady progress. Kay, Bob said, was more impacted as both of her ankles were broken in the accident, leaving her unable to walk for 10 weeks. At 10 weeks, she could put all her weight on one leg and 50 percent on the other. Time in a wheelchair has left her with atrophied muscles and learning to walk again was a huge challenge, but Bob said she’s more mobile every day, and is now using a walker and a cane for assistance as she rebuilds her strength.
“Our bones are knitted and our lacerations healed, but the brain trauma will take up to a year to recover from,” Bob said. “I think we endured pretty well. God saved us.”
There is little doubt in the Scotts’ minds that their survival is nothing short of miraculous. When he shows his physicians photos of the destroyed Jeep, the invariable comment is, “You should be dead.”
“I give God all the credit we survived,” Bob said. “He preserved us.”
And the gratitude the couple has for the numerous rescuers, doctors and volunteers who first brought them from the rough terrain off Tomboy Road, to the medical professionals at Telluride Medical Center and at St. Mary’s Hospital in Grand Junction, to the doctors who continue to treat the Scotts in Florida, is overflowing.
“We wouldn’t have been able to make it without them,” he said. “We’re very appreciative of all the people praying for us.”
Bob thought a moment when asked if he’d like to explore the high country when they return to Montrose next spring.
“A few weeks ago, I would have said I was done,” he said. “I might if I still had a Jeep, but right now, it’s too soon to tell.”
And, he said, a Jeep is not the most practical vehicle to “run around town in.” But he’s open to the idea, as long as any future excursions are on roads less technically challenging.
For the Scotts, Thanksgiving means gathering with their daughter and son-in-law and their grandchildren and extended family. Like most people who take delight in the food and convivial gathering around the table, they have their favorites. Bob, as a youth, loved his aunt’s chestnut dressing, but these days he’s looking forward to his son-in-law’s parent’s sweet potato casserole and peanut butter pie. As for Kay, it’s time spent with the grandkids and the fellowship of the holiday. “And she likes that pie, too,” Bob said.