ANDOVER — Logger Kurt Thurston knows he is lucky to be alive.

Thurston, 32, was seriously hurt April 11 after a skidder ran over him while he was a mile in the woods.

He received a crushed pelvis and a compound fractured ankle. He faces four to six months of recovery before he can go back to logging, Thurston said Friday.

“I was very lucky,” he said.

Thurston’s brother, Jon, also of Andover, said his brother is doing fine but has a long road ahead to recovery.

Doctors rebuilt his brother’s ankle and put clamps on his pelvis, Jon Thurston said.

Kurt and Jon Thurston, both said they are very thankful for all the help Kurt received from rescuers, including Jay police and Jay and Livermore Falls firefighters, NorthStar emergency medical providers, and people who helped get him out of the woods.

“I didn’t think I was going to make it,” Kurt Thurston said. “I was fixing to die by myself in the woods.”

Thurston who has only been logging for a couple of years, said he had a full twitch of logs behind his skidder. The load caught on something and the skidder stalled, and started to roll back down the steep hill.

“Once the skidder stalled, I had no brakes,” Thurston said. “I made a split-second decision. I could either ride it out or jump. I chose to jump.”

Knowing the weight of the wood he had behind the skidder and the steep angle of the banking he was on, he thought the skidder might roll over, hit a tree or a tree branch could come down through the cage of the cab.

When he jumped he hit the ground and fell but not far enough away from the skidder, he said.

“The skidder tire ran completely over me from the waist down,” he said. “I slid down the hill on my back to where the skidder was. I used the skidder to get myself stood up. I looked for my phone.”

He couldn’t find it and sat down there. He thought he wasn’t going to make it.

Then his phone rang.

“I started crawling toward it,” he said, and went about 20 feet.

“The pain was excruciating and I knew I had to do something to save myself,” Thurston said.

He could see the phone but it was 4 feet away from him.

He found a stick and was able to bring the phone to him.

“I called 911,” Thurston said.

His brother Jon was the one who had called Kurt’s cellphone that directed him to the phone’s location.

Jon Thurston was coming to pick his brother up at the woodlot and called to get better directions.

“One of the smartest things I ever did was turn on the GPS locater on my phone,” Kurt Thurston said.

When he reached the emergency dispatchers, he said, they told them they could see the coordinates on the computer screen where he was located. It took about an hour for rescuers to reach him.

Jay police Detective Richard Caton IV was the first to arrive, Thurston said. He was able to help direct the others to the spot.

Thurston was stabilized and put on a backboard and then put on a stretcher. It was laid across the back of a large all-terrain vehicle on tracks and he was driven out of the woods.

Thurston was taken by ambulance to a Lewiston hospital where he underwent surgery. He was released April 16.

Thurston said he is undergoing physical therapy two or three times a week with family members driving him.

“I’m hoping in another month, I’ll be able to drive myself,” he said.

Jon Thurston said his younger brother forgot the logger 101 rule that their father always told them.

If you are on a skidder and it starts to roll, stay in the seat and ride it out, don’t jump off, Thurston said.

Kurt Thurston said he may have screwed up but he’s not sure which way would have been best given the circumstances.

“I’m not sure which was the right choice but I thought the safest choice for me was to jump off,” he said.

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