Becky Cannon realized when her phone rang that it was a call from her son. But when she heard his voice it was nearly unrecognizable.
"He was screaming," she said. "It was terrifying."
Then the signal dropped.
Lucas Cannon, then 16, had decided to move a few one-ton round bales of hay from one part of the family's cattle farm in Fleming County to another before getting something to eat and heading out to a high school football game.
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Nothing unusual for an August evening on the farm.
"I had just picked up the last two bales," Lucas said. "I was driving and everything was fine. I was singing, and then I don't remember what happened."
Lucas had fallen out of an enclosed tractor and was facing up toward the sky. He could see the back wheel of the eight-ton tractor, which was carrying a one-ton bale on the front and another on the back, rolling toward him in third or fourth gear, pretty fast for a tractor. It was surreal.
"The instant I hit the ground, the tire rolled over me," Lucas said. "It spun me around on the ground and ran over me three or four times. The engine blew and I was laying there face down, grabbing the Earth, buried in the ground."
He lay there for a second before rolling over and trying to sit up. Pain knocked him back down.
With his right hand, he touched the right side of his stomach and slid it down to find a tear in his jeans. His hand went inside his body.
"I pulled my hand out and it was orange."
He reached inside his pocket and found his cell phone, which amazingly was undamaged. His right leg, however, was nearly detached.
Lucas called his mother who was out to dinner with his father.
"I remember saying three words," Lucas said. "Help. Greenhouse. But I don't remember the last word. Then we lost service."
Obviously, while frightening and rather gruesome, this will not be a tragic story. This is a story of resilience, of faith and of love that has redefined the Cannon family and could be used to redefine our own.
The second word Lucas said, "greenhouse," helped his parents zero in on his location on the family farm. He waited for them and, "The one thing that I did, I looked to the sky and I prayed," Lucas said. "I wasn't screaming. I just prayed. I think that saved me," he said.
In and out of consciousness, Lucas heard the familiar sound of his grandfather's truck barreling closer to him. His father was at the wheel, crashing through gates, fences, anything that was in the way.
"It was just horrific," said Becky upon seeing her son lying in the field. "We knew when we saw him, it was dire. He was talking, but his breathing was labored. He was gray colored. It just wasn't good."
Becky called for help. An ambulance came and then a helicopter which carried Lucas to the University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital. There wasn't room in the chopper for Lucas' parents, so they climbed into their car and headed for Lexington.
A trauma surgeon at the hospital, Dr. Bernard Boulanger, recalled the event: "There was massive injury to the right side of the pelvis, and massive bleeding from that. He was taken immediately to the operating room."
Over the next several weeks during the fall of 2009, Lucas underwent 16 operations to repair his bladder, rectum and protruding intestines. He received more than 150 blood transfusions during his hospitalization, a considerable amount for one accident.
Although medical personnel tried to save Lucas' leg, the blood vessels were so damaged a good blood flow could not be established. After a second and third operation to amputate the leg below the knee and to try to control a spreading infection, Boulanger stepped out of the operating room to speak with Lucas' father and suggested a hemipelvectomy, an extreme operation that would remove the right pelvis and the right leg.
Boulanger said it would be necessary to save Lucas' life. Clay agreed.
After seven or eight days, doctors finally sounded a bit optimistic. Through it all, Becky, a retired state worker, and Clay a 30-year employee of East Kentucky Power Cooperative, remained at their son's side.
"His parents had a lot to do with his survival," Boulanger said. "They were his advocates and they were with him all the time and very involved with his care. I don't think he would be alive if his parents hadn't been so involved."
Another plus was that Lucas was young and fit.
"Farm injuries are quite contaminated and he made it through all that," Boulanger said. "He had age on his side. His survival is a miracle."
Eventually, Lucas was moved to Cardinal Hill Rehabilitation Hospital but returned to UK Hospital briefly when fluid built up in his other leg.
"Quite a bit of muscle had to be removed from his left leg," Becky said. "That set us back a couple of weeks."
Finally, Lucas, who had lost about 50 pounds during the ordeal, returned to Cardinal Hill and the true recovery and strengthening began.
The family headed back to Flemingsburg, but not to their three-bedroom home. It was being renovated with an elevator, wider doorways to accommodate a wheelchair, and an entire upper level for Lucas.
At the Flemingsburg hospital in January, Lucas progressed from a tilt bed to a walker in about a month. Then he told his physical therapists he wanted to go to his prom in May.
"I was up every day on a walker or crutches, working my leg so I could get the muscle back and go to the prom," he said.
Just by standing up, by being vertical, Lucas said he felt normal again. He and his girlfriend went to the prom.
Still, could there be more in store for him?
At a cattle conference, Lucas' paternal grandmother met a high-level amputee and learned of a group in Florida that specializes in fitting difficult amputations.
"They work with veterans who come back from war," his father said. "It was really good for him. I don't know how he has done it. He has been an inspiration to quite a few people."
Lucas needed a prosthesis that had a hip socket along with an entire leg — a prosthetic that can be difficult to fit. The family traveled to Prosthetic & Orthotic Associates in Orlando, Fla., where Lucas found other amputees he could talk to and share stories about phantom pain and other struggles.
Lucas bonded with the owner and realized he had found his calling. After graduating on time this spring, Lucas plans to attend community college for a couple of years and then enroll in the J.E. Hanger Orthotics and Prosthetics Program at St. Petersburg College.
"It is pretty much a specialty school for prosthetists," he said. "There was a reason for the accident. That reason is to help other amputees who kind of feel outside of the crowd."
Lucas, by all accounts, is an inspiration.
"He knows and realizes that God has intervened in his life and saved his life," Clay said. "That is a big part of his positive attitude."
The accident gave Lucas the motivation to interact with people, to share his testimony, to help others.
"I need to give back," he said last week before heading to New York City for his senior trip. "I love telling my story."