ENID — The grit and determination that pulled two Garfield County teens through dark times after they each lost a leg in an auger accident one year ago is preparing them for college and beyond.
Tyler Zander and Bryce Gannon, now 18, were working together Aug. 4, 2011, at the Zaloudek Grain Co. elevator in Kremlin when Gannon's leg became caught in the auger. His friend Zander tried to help him but lost his footing and also slipped into the auger.
Both young men held fast to their faith, family and friends in the early days after the accident and continue to do so today, said Bradley Gungoll, attorney for both families.
“They both have great spirit and determination,” Gungoll said.
Zander and Gannon continue with medical treatment and rehabilitation, Gungoll said. They were recognized and honored at the OU Medical Center Trauma Survivors Reception and Awards banquet in April for their recovery efforts.
“Tyler has more permanent injuries than Bryce,” Gungoll said.
Zander has undergone more than 30 surgeries, and another procedure is anticipated, Gungoll said.
The two friends were hospitalized for weeks at OU Medical Center, followed by more weeks of rehabilitation, but that did not deter them from traditional senior year activities.
Since the accident, the young men have attended proms and dances and graduated from high school. Gannon was chosen Kremlin High School football homecoming king in the fall, and Zander was chosen Chisholm High School basketball homecoming king in the spring.
Zander plans to attend Oklahoma State University in Stillwater this fall, while Gannon is headed to Northwestern Oklahoma State University in Alva. Zander's Facebook page said he plans to major in pre-med/biochemistry.
Two lawsuits stemming from the accident are pending.
Zaloudek Grain Co. filed a lawsuit in Oklahoma County against CompSource Oklahoma, its workers' compensation insurance carrier, saying the insurance company acted in bad faith and breached its contract when it canceled Zaloudek's workers' compensation coverage five months before the accident.
The lawsuit is pending before the Oklahoma Supreme Court.
The parents of Gannon and Zander filed identical negligence lawsuits against the grain company in October in Garfield County.
Court delays in the Oklahoma County case are delaying the families' cases against the grain company, making it impossible for a Garfield County judge to set a trial date, attorney Gungoll said.
“I do think they (Zaloudek) are purposely stalling the litigation, pending the outcome of the Oklahoma County lawsuit,” Gungoll said. “The defendant has made no secret they would like to delay this case until the Oklahoma County case has been ruled on in the appeal. We believe that is irrelevant. The judge cannot rule or proceed with anything.”
Richard Hornbeek, attorney for Zaloudek, did not return telephone calls.
Zaloudek filed motions on April 9 and May 9 asking Associate Judge Robert E. Davis to recuse himself from hearing the families' case. Davis, who presides in Kingfisher County, was assigned to the case in November. That also is pending before the Oklahoma Supreme Court.
Oral arguments on the issue are set for Aug. 15, court records show.