Biking trip injuries lead to life detour - WAOW - Newsline 9, Wausau News, Weather, Sports

Biking trip injuries lead to life detour

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For Todd Branton it was a trip to get away.

"I just decided to hit the reset button," Branton said.

So, he set off from Wausau on a cross country bicycle tour. Along the way, he met up with his friend, Vanessa Witter.

"We went swimming, ate some lunch and then went back up to the campsite to build a fire," Branton recalled.

But that's when things took an unexpected turn.

"I didn't believe it was happening, as it was happening," Branton said.

As the two lay in the tent, a wild storm blew through.

"All I remember is one big gust of wind and something just hit me in the head and I was trapped between a tree trunk and the outer wall of my now crushed tent," Branton described.

Witter was still inside.

"I started screaming, and screaming for help and just kept saying, Vanessa, Vanessa," Branton said.

Finally, he managed to get her out. She had been hit by the tree, pinned to the ground.

"I remember hearing a loud snap and then everything was gone," Witter said. "When I came to I put my hand up to my face and when I brought it away it was covered in blood and everything came rushing to me at that point, all of the pain, all of the fear," Witter said.

For what seemed like hours the two sat and waited for help.

"Luckily she stayed with me. But, I honestly didn't know if she was going to," Branton said as he looked at his friend.

Witter's skull was smashed into seven pieces. It took four hours of reconstructive surgery, and she'll need more down the road. But when you ask her how she's feeling her answer might surprise you.

"I feel so incredibly lucky," Witter said. "Those things just seem so unimportant, so minuscule, like I shouldn't have to worry about them at all, considering I almost died."

The pair says the accident has changed their lives.

"It really gave me a better look on life," Witter said.

"You can't let it get inside your head, otherwise it wins," Branton added.

That's why this trip is not over.

"I'm going to get back out there and I'm going to do it," Branton promised.

For Witter, it's one day at a time. That's because, she says, it has to be.

"I just can't waste a minute because I came so close to losing everything."

During the storm, Todd's Surli brand bike was destroyed. But when the company heard about his story through Sprocketz Bike Shop in Schofield they decided to give Todd a brand new one. He picked his new bike up last week and says he's almost ready to get back out there.

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