By Meredith Sykora, October 2, 2020
Editor’s note: Lieutenant Zach Sykora works for the Hot Springs Village Fire Department. He is married to Registered Nurse Meredith, and they have two beautiful children, ages four and two.
Approximately one year ago, Zach suffered a devastating and nearly life-ending accident while bow hunting deer in the Village. It is only through the grace of God that we have Zach with us today.
Barely conscious after falling from his malfunctioning tree stand, Zach was finally able to contact his wife Meredith for help. Having inferior cell phone service in the woods, it was only through providence that Zach could put out his SOS call.
Meredith, a seasoned medical professional, quickly obtained additional emergency help and arrived at the scene of the accident. There were many heroes that day, both in the woods and at the hospital. At the bottom of this article are links to past articles detailing the Zach Sykora accident and the phenomenal community response.
In Meredith Sykora’s own words:
October 4th marks one year since Zach had his tree stand accident. He fell 24 feet to the ground after shooting a deer and disconnecting his harness to climb down. To refresh your memory, he suffered eleven broken ribs, a collapsed lung, ten broken vertebrae, L2 was a burst and compression fracture, a broken hip, and a concussion.
By the grace of God, he was able to get a phone call out to me for help. (He called 21 times and did not have any reception.) I was able to dispatch the firemen and ambulance, and they shortly arrived after I did.
The moments of finding Zach that day will haunt me for the rest of my life. I didn’t know if he would live or die. His backpack protected his head and neck, or I’m positive the end result would have looked a lot different that day. He spent ten days in ICU at UAMS and an additional five days in rehab.
Zach could not walk for nine weeks. He was immobilized by a hard brace for 15 weeks. He could only have it off while he laid flat in the bed. To say our life was completely flipped upside down is an understatement.
God used this community, our friends, and our family to bless us with donations, delivering meals, taking Zachary to doctors’ appointments, blowing the leaves out of our yards, etc. There was a women’s organization that provided my family with meals on Thanksgiving and Christmas and my boys had Christmas presents delivered.
To this day, Zach and I are blown away by the generosity and love of the people around us. Unfortunately, there were too many people to thank individually, but please know that each act of kindness, big or small, did not go unnoticed or unappreciated. Our prayer has been, and will always be that you are blessed for helping us during our time of need.
Today, Zach is back to 100%. He was able to return to work (light duty) at the end of January. By April, he was released from his spine doctor and back to normal duty at the fire station. Every now and then, he will get a little achy, but we are happy with that versus what the alternative could and should have been.
I am sure some of you wonder, so yes, Zach has been back in a tree stand – connected from the ground up and back down. He also wears a harness while hanging stands now. He has even killed a deer in the urban hunt and donated it to Arkansas Hunters Feeding the Hungry. This meat provides both snack sticks for local schools and deer-burger for local shelters.
In summary, the lesson we learned that day is to have faith always that God WILL carry you through the hard times. Love deeply, wear a harness if you’re in the air, and no matter what, live as though it’s your last day. Again, thank you for all the love and support you have shown our family over the last year. We are forever grateful.
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Click here to read, “HSV Firefighter, Lt. Zach Sykora in ICU.”
Click here to read, “Lt. Zach Sykora Update 10/8/19.”
Click here to read, “HSV Efforts continue for Sykora Family.”
Click here to read, “Gifts help the Sykora family.”
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