WEST LIBERTY — In the summer of 2016, total strangers came to the aid of Scott Boyd – rescuers, doctors, and blood donors – and saved him from dying in a farm accident. Two years later, with his road to recovery still long and steep, a visitor emerged from out of Boyd’s past to give him a needed push; and just as unexpectedly, that friend disappeared.
Tragedy, invincibility, and redemption are reoccurring themes in Boyd’s remarkable life story. As a teen, he cheated death in a car accident that killed three friends. As a dad, he broke his neck diving into a pond to rescue his daughter.
No challenge compared to what happened on Aug. 12, 2016, the day he nearly bled to death in the field behind his West Liberty home. He jumped off his bush hog to clear a piece of brush and was caught in the mower blades. The “shark bite” wound to his side shattered his hip and shredded ribs and internal organs.
By chance, Boyd’s wife, Cindee, was home for lunch that day. She got a dropped call from Boyd’s phone and sent a text asking, “need anything?” She saw, “help,” and, “911,” in his scrambled reply.
Boyd’s heart stopped twice waiting for CareFlight and twice again in flight to Miami Valley Hospital. Before take-off, rescue workers asked if they should wait for Boyd’s young son, Noah, to cross the pasture to hug his dad. They thought it would be a final goodbye.
In a series of surgeries over the next 39 hours, Boyd received 108 units of blood, plasma, and platelets. At each uncertain step toward survival, Cindee would repeat, “God has big plans for you Scott Boyd.”
Neighbors rallied to donate at the “Iron Man” blood drives held by Community Blood Center in his name. His resilience gave him membership in a truly elite club. In 2017, Miami Valley Hospital honored him at the “Trauma Survivors Banquet.”
CHEATING DEATH, BARGAINING FOR LIFE
Boyd had cheated death once again, but now he was bargaining to reclaim pieces of his old life — lost memory, the stamina to walk, drive a car again, lift weights, or ride an exercise bicycle — and always more testing, more doctor visits, more surgeries.
Months of delicate work went into preparing his body for an artificial hip. His hip bone began growing at an abnormal rate, requiring radiation and surgery. A damaged nerve in his leg requires yet another surgery.
But to Boyd, his biggest milestone came in June of 2018. “Riding a bike,” he said.
Before the mowing accident, he would take to the road on a three-wheeled recumbent bike. Getting back on that bike was life-changing.
“Because that’s what he did before,” said Cindee. “It was the first time he and Butch went out.”
Butch Sower and Boyd were a year apart in high school. They were fast friends and both liked fast cars. But it was Sower who had the natural speed and strength of a champion long-distance runner. He was a track and cross country star who led West Liberty-Salem High to back-to-back state championships.
“He told me a story about how the coach would push him in the last mile of the cross country race when they won the state championship,” Boyd said. “’One more kick Butch, one more kick.’”
‘ME AND YOU ARE INVINCIBLE’
After high school, fast driving and hard drinking became a struggle for Sower. He moved away and never married. Boyd, who was married with four children, lost touch. After multiple DUI convictions, Sower served time in jail.
Sower was behind bars when he received news from home. He made it the starting line for his personal road to redemption, and his unique role in Boyd’s recovery.
“He wrote me a long letter in prison when he heard about my accident,” Boyd said. “He came back to West Liberty when he got out and he was at my house every night.”
Sower could no longer drive cars, but he would run miles to get where he wanted to go. He bought an old bike and challenged Boyd to ride with him.
“The first time he and Butch went out, he’d have to get off his bike and push Scott uphill,” said Cindee. “He’d bike to the top of the hill, run down and push me up,” Boyd said. “He only had to do it four or five times before I got strong enough to stay with him.”
Sower was a talented carpenter and Boyd asked a friend to give him a job. Sower had not stopped drinking, but seemed to have it under control. He never missed work, stayed out of trouble, and kept running and riding with Boyd.
Their common bond was a reckless, yet tenacious, spirit for life.
“We were at a bar,” Boyd said, recalling one of their last conversations. “He said, ‘Me and you are invincible, Boyd!’”
A week later, the two men made a choice that Boyd will forever regret. The summer night of Aug. 29, 2018, was two years since Boyd’s accident. The sun was setting, but they decided to go for a late bike ride.
“I got ahead of him,” Boyd said. “I didn’t see the turtle. It was dark. We shouldn’t have gone. He hit it on the way home.”
Sower must not have seen the dead turtle, lying in the lane on Route 287. By either hitting or swerving to avoid it, he was thrown from his bike. He was not wearing his helmet and he suffered a severe head injury. Just as in Boyd’s accident two years earlier, he was flown to Miami Valley Hospital clinging to life.
“He was going to do every kind of rehabilitation, everything for me,” Boyd said. “We just never planned on this happening.”
Now it was Boyd’s turn to go to a friend in need. “I drove down by myself,” he said. “When he was at Miami Valley Hospital, I was telling him that same line, ‘One more kick Butch, one more kick.’”
There was no miracle recovery for Sower. He died less than a week later. Boyd can’t explain why he is still here and Sower is not.
“He wrecked seven cars — one week a Z28 and the next week a Corvette — and never had an injury,” Boyd said. “He lived through so many accidents, kind of like me. He made it his mission to get me back in shape. I guess when that mission was completed it was his time to go.”
A SHARED LEGACY
Boyd’s road to recovery isn’t truly complete. Surgeries remain, and his mind and memory still play tricks, leaving him confused. More confusing is why a friend, so earnest about turning his life around, is suddenly gone.
“I was the one that wanted to go,” Boyd said of that final ride. “It cost him his life. That hits me hard. Mentally, that set me back. I didn’t get back on the bike as much. I thought of him, and now I use it as incentive to get back in shape.”
Sower did have a final mission, or as Boyd might say, “one more kick.” The champion long-distance runner was an organ donor.
In his final days, Sower sought to help a friend, whose life was saved by blood donors. In death, he shared that legacy by giving life to total strangers.
“He had the heart of a lion,” Boyd said. “The biggest heart of any person I’ve ever met in my life.”
One more life Butch… one more life.
Learn more at www.GivingBlood.org.