By William K. Alcorn
RUSSELL MARSHALL, horrifically injured March 23 in a farm accident, finally got his wish. He came home May 27, Memorial Day.
Not only was it his homecoming after more than two months in the hospital and a nursing home, it was the 23rd anniversary of his marriage to his wife, Melissa. Less than a month later, on June 9, they celebrated the 12th birthday of their son, Jacob.
Those landmarks — and that Russell is alive — are the good news.
The other side of the coin is a daily struggle for Melissa to get Russell signed up for Social Security Disability and the family on Medicaid so their medical bills will be paid.
Russell was terminated from his job and lost his health insurance after the accident, Melissa said, and now the family is living on income from Melissa’s Avon business, fundraisers and the generosity of family, friends and neighbors.
Because they live in Mahoning County and Russell was in a nursing home in Alliance in Stark County, the family is getting slightly more than $200 a month in food stamps instead of the $414 she said a family of three normally would receive if one county handled their case.
“Two hundred dollars is one trip to the grocery store,” adding it doesn’t last a month.
The Marshalls’ ordeal began around noon March 23 when Russell’s jacket got tangled in the power-takeoff shaft between his tractor and a grinder he was using to grind feed for their hogs.
Russell, 54, was violently twisted by the shaft until his left arm was ripped off just below his shoulder, freeing him.
His son, Jacob, then 11, who has Asperger syndrome, an autism-spectrum disorder, was playing about 50 feet away when the accident occurred. He heard his father scream and ran to the house to get his mother. Melissa came out, saw what had happened, turned off the tractor and called 911.
Russell, conscious during the ordeal, lay on the ground while his wife tried to stem the bleeding waiting for the ambulance to arrive. The only clothing he still had on was his underwear, belt and a sock and boot on his right foot.
Besides losing his arm, he had broken legs, a crushed left knee and tibia, five fractured ribs, multiple pelvis fractures, a crushed right ankle, fractured sternum, and the main artery to his right foot was severed. He nearly bled to death.
Emergency personnel from the Berlin Center Fire Department arrived quickly and took him to Berlin Center, where a helicopter transported him to UPMC Presbyterian Hospital in Pittsburgh. He underwent several surgeries. On April 4, he was transferred to Canterbury Villa of Alliance.
Russell was a part-time farmer and did maintenance work and helped with 4-H, none of which he can do now.
But he can show Melissa how to fix things around the house that he would have handled himself before the accident.
“Before the accident, he didn’t have a lot of patience. Now he has more. He’s my teacher,” Melissa said.
“Russell is in a lot of pain, and he is frustrated that he can’t do things. We are all in counseling, but we’re bound and determined that we are going to make it somehow,” Melissa said.
But they need financial help.
Lori Stape, a neighbor, and several other members of the Mahoning Valley Olde Car Club are having a benefit car show for the Marshall family next Sunday.
The show will be from 2 to 6 p.m. at Western Reserve High School, 13850 Akron-Canfield Road (U.S. Route 224). Besides classic vehicles, there will be hot dogs and beverages, a 50-50 raffle, bake sale, auction and clowns. There is no fee to show vehicles. For information, call Dee Tripp, secretary of MVOCC, at 330-538-9968 or Stape, MVOCC member and neighbor of the Marshalls, at 330-538-9968.
People who want to help the Marshall family can send a check or money order or donate in person to the Russell Marshall Benefit Account at any Farmers National Bank.