Harrington injury familiar territory

Contract worker Tyler Beck works Thursday to clear ice from the parking lot at the Anderson Justice Center.

Contract worker Tyler Beck works Thursday to clear ice from the parking lot at the Anderson Justice Center.

Alexandra Nicolas

For Bob Harrington, the third time isn’t necessarily a charm.

Harrington, director of the physical plant, suffered a broken right femur after slipping on ice at his home Jan. 15 as he prepared to drive to Southern to begin clearing ice left by the recent storm. Since Harrington has suffered two prior femur breaks, this one was familiar territory.

“I knew it was broken as soon as I hit the pavement,” he said. “I just had to lie there and wait for the ambulance.”

Harrington broke the same femur in a motorcycle accident in 1972. The accident resulted in Harrington’s leg being pinned between the motorcycle and another automobile, breaking his femur into multiple pieces. The injury required a steel plate and four pins to repair the bone. Harrington also spent four and a half months in traction, three and a half more months in a body cast and had three weeks of intensive physical therapy after that.

“They had to literally put me on the floor, put a bucket under my knee and weigh down my ankle until the knee bent,” he said.

Harrington’s recent injury is believed to be a result of the weakening in his femur due to the old pins still in the bone.

However, after 14 surgeries, 35 years and numerous technological advances, this recent injury will not require such extensive recovery. Harrington is now walking aided by a walker with no cast and only a knee-to-hip incision marking where surgeons applied the steel plate to his femur. He expected to return home from Freeman Hospital over the weekend.

The Harrington family has learned to keep his femur in perspective. Bob Harrington’s first broken femur occurred only seven days after his wedding to Crystal Harrington.

Bob Harrington was preparing to serve in the U.S. Army at the time and was kept from his tour of duty as a Green Beret paratrooper in the Vietnam War.

“It was a blessing in disguise,” said Crystal Harrington. “It was almost like God said ‘OK, I’ll keep him here, but it’s not going to be easy.'”

Crystal Harrington also said the experience helped her and her husband grow together as friends during their first year of marriage.

With Bob Harrington’s recent injury, Crystal Harrington said she knows this time will be different with the advanced in technology and the support of their family.

“We are the lucky ones,” Crystal Harrington said. “They can fix a broken leg, but there are some people with illnesses or injuries who will never be whole again.”

Groundskeeper Bob Kemp has assumed Bob Harrington’s University duties until he recovers.