TJ Cartwright and fiancée Lillian Rowley
A Price man is recovering at the Utah Valley Regional Medical Center from head and neck injuries sustained during a hunting accident in Central Utah.
TJ Cartwright, 23, was struck with an arrow in the cheek while hunting deer with three companions, including his fiancÃ©e, Lillian Rowley. According to the Juab County Sheriff's department, the accident, which occurred on private property in Levan, was called in to public safety officials at 6:29 a.m. Saturday.
According to Rowley, Cartwright was taking video ahead of the hunting party when a buck began making its way across the field. As the hunters began positioning themselves to take a shot, Cartwright inadvertently ended up between the archer and the target. As the shooter, whose bow was drawn, attempted to throw the shot away, the arrow accidentally released. Cartwright stood and was hit.
With the arrow head lodged near his carotid artery, Cartwright began walking with one of his hunting partners until they obtained cell reception. After calling 911, Cartwright was located by Juab County medial technicians, who stabilized him for transport.
Cartwright was taken to the Nephi Medical Center where a tracheotomy was performed and the arrow was cut down. After determining the severity of his injuries, medical personnel decided to fly the victim to Utah Valley Regional Medical Center.
Cartwright's injuries were complicated because he was shot with a Rage Broadhead, an expandable arrow head which deploys its razor-sharp tips upon impact. After four hours of tests at Utah Valley, medical personnel determined that only two of the arrow's blades had deployed. The third did not activate and was resting on his carotid artery.
"They were worried about the surgery and none of the surgeons knew anything about these Rage Broadheads," said Cartwright's future mother-in-law Becky Archibald. "They sent somebody to Sportsman's to buy one, so the ear, nose and throat specialist, could work with it before going in. They needed to know the mobility and functionality of that arrow head."
According to Rowley, Utah Valley surgeons worked for more than eight hours, cutting through Cartwright's chin on his right jaw bone making a U-turn up behind his right ear. After gaining access, surgeons could see a portion of the broad head but could not remove it because of bone tissue in the way.
Surgeons then removed a piece of bone from behind Cartwright's ear, and were able to extract the blades. Doctors then pushed the rest of the arrow through the back of his head. As those operating gained a full view, they discovered that the arrow had stopped right between Cartwright's skull and the top of his spine.
"Even though he is doing well, he has a long way to go in his recovery," said Rowley. "We appreciate all the prayers and kind words we have received and would ask that they continue."
After more than 12 hours of procedure and 22 pints of blood, Cartwright left the operating room with no damage to his carotid artery.
The victim was sedated until Monday morning, when he awoke and was able to blink his eyes, wiggle his fingers and toes and recognize the voices of his father and fiance.
"As of right now, everything looks very good and he is doing very well," said Archibald. "Additionally, Lillian is determined that her wedding will happen on Sept. 14, even if it does happen next to Cartwright's hospital bed."
Several of the victims friends are setting up fundraisers for Cartwright and his family. Additionally, the USU Eastern Sun Center has begun planning a blood drive for the victim.