“I wouldn’t be at the point where I am today”

Archive, March, Month

A devastating car crash almost took everything from a soon-to-be father.

It was late, around 3:30 in the morning, and Erik was on the road.

He had just come from visiting with family after the passing of his grandmother, and he was now heading back home to his sleeping wife, who was pregnant with twins.

Stopped at a light on Metro Parkway, the light had just turned green and he pressed on the gas.

“I didn’t see a thing,” he said.

Seemingly out of nowhere, Erik was struck by a car fleeing police at a high rate of speed — approximately 100 miles per hour. The car hit on the front passenger side, tossing Erik around inside the car.

“It felt like I was paralyzed,” he said, not losing consciousness at the scene and having full recollection of the accident. “It was like I couldn’t move at all.”

Erik said it was like an out-of-body experience. He felt his heart stop beating, and he took his last breath. “It hit me. I was gone.”

In what he thought were his final moments, his thoughts turned to his wife, stepson and the twins he would never get to see.

But just as quick, he fully came to, gasped and took in a deep breath.

Police and EMTs arrived on the scene.

A self-proclaimed big guy, Erik saw they were having difficulty getting him out of the totaled vehicle. Not yet fully knowing the extent of his injuries, he forced himself out of his mangled car.

Secured in the ambulance and attended to by the EMTs, Erik lost consciousness en route to the McLaren Macomb trauma center.

The collision

“I remember seeing him for the first time in the emergency department in between blackouts,” Erik said.

Orthopedic trauma surgeon Dr. Michael Milshteyn met Erik when he arrived at McLaren Macomb’s trauma center and began evaluating the extent of his injuries.

“It was obvious in our initial evaluation that Erik had sustained very significant injuries,” he said. “But looking closer upon further assessment, that’s when we really got our first true look at just how severe these injuries were.”

In the collision, Erik sustained a broken left arm and left leg, ruptured lungs and ruptured colon, nerve damage to his foot, hand, lower neck and lower back, head trauma and several lacerations.

One of the most concerning injuries, though, was a broken pelvis.

“Without a stable pelvis,” Dr. Milshteyn said, “the ability to walk properly and safely is not possible. The fact that it was open, with a ruptured colon, made infection and additional complications possible. That was definitely one of the fractures that could prove most troubling.”

As a fellowship-trained orthopedic trauma surgeon, Dr. Milshteyn’s advanced training provided him with invaluable experience in setting and stabilizing these complex fractures of the pelvis.

Erik underwent multiple surgeries to set his many broken bones, including his pelvis.

“He wanted me to get back to my wife, to my family,” Erik said. “He wanted me to be able to get up and walk, to get back to my life.

“It’s amazing to me what he was able to do. In rehabilitation, I saw people with similar injuries who were not near where I was. He did a great job. I’m very thankful.”


“If it wasn’t for Dr. Milshteyn,” Erik said, “I wouldn’t be at the point where I am today.”

More than a year into his recovery, Erik is still appreciative of his surgeon’s work, and is reminded of it every time he stands and walks. He knows he still has more work to do but counts his faith and optimism as an advantage.

He and Dr. Milshteyn still have surgeries ahead of them, and Erik, used to being active as an MMA fighter and power lifter, walks with a cane due to nerve damage causing foot drop.

Erik’s progress to this point has us very encouraged about just how much stronger he can get,” Dr. Milshteyn said. “He has the will and is as determined as anyone I’ve ever seen recovering from these types of injuries.”

At the time of the accident, Erik was in his final semester of earning his nursing degree. After a delay, he has to start again but now approaches his education as a medical professional with a renewed resolve and some firsthand experience.

“If you haven’t been through anything like this, you can still care for your patient, of course,” he said. “But this has really helped me to be a better overall nurse. You can really hear the patient when you’ve been through that experience.”

Erik’s days are filled with work and rehab, but both he and Dr. Milshteyn remain optimistic about his long-term prospects. Most importantly, he’s here for his wife and their children, and he’s aiming to be the father he always knew he could be.

For that, he’s willing to do the work.

“Can’t let anything hold you down,” he says.