Ex-Buckeye Player, Politician Overcomes Accident That Took Leg


In 1984, Ben Espy faced one of his biggest challenges, overcoming an accident that took his leg.

A cornice of a downtown building fell on him, 10TV News reported.

Espy, who played football for Woody Hayes at Ohio State, and who later became a Columbus city councilman and Ohio State senator, refused to allow the injures to affect his life.

Here is how Espy described the accident to 10TV News:

On June 18, 1984 at 2:45 in the afternoon, I had just left the bank and I was going to a city council meeting. And, across the street, in front of the Nitschke Building, the next thing I knew I was laying in the middle of the street.

Like Chicken Little, I thought the sky fell down or something.  There was a lot of smoke or dust, and I just heard sirens.  The first hit to hit me was on my shoulder of the cornice, and of course, it hit me right here, and one inch to the left and it would have been my head.

Then, it hit the shoulder and it came down the whole right side of my body which fractured my elbow, and cut my thigh, and then severed my lower leg.  I could see that I was hurt pretty badly and I knew that if I kept breathing I would stay alive, so I hyperventilated.

I could see that I lost my leg.  I looked down and I could see that it was gone; I could see it laying over there.  Somebody came by and took off my tie and made a tourniquet, and the next thing I knew, the rescue squad was there.

They then discussed if they could find the appendage, and maybe they could connect it back on again, but there was too much debris. The hospital stay, I had six operations, and most of it was to clean out the debris, a lot of debris.

During the time of my hospitalization, Woody Hayes came to my room at least 2 or 3 times a week.  After every operation, he was at the foot of my bed and he was very ill at the time but he made that trip every week and he'd talk to me after every operation and he always said about getting knocked down and getting back up.

I went to the hospital and I stayed there about 4 or 5 weeks.  I came out in September and resumed my life.  I came out and the first thing I did was walk in the UNCF walk-a-thon because I wanted to show people to some extent, my kids, that you get up and you get up and keep moving.

I walked about, on crutches, about 2 miles and against my doctors orders because he said, 'You shouldn't do it,' but he said, 'If you insist on doing it, I'm going to walk with you.'  So my doctor, William Reynolds, walked with me for the two miles.

Then, I resumed my life, went back to my law practice, and I couldn't get up the steps, so I had to scoot on my rear end up the steps and down the steps, every day.

It's just a small inconvenience in my life -- that day -- and I had a lot to live for, and I was inconvenienced.  I saw my kids grow up; I think my twins were about 3 years old at the time.  They're now 29.

I've taken advantage of this second chance that I've had to live.  Someone sent me a card and it said, 'Don't worry about what you've lost, but what you have left.'  I have more left than what I lost.

I recently joined a national law firm called Gonzalez Saggio & Harlan, so I'm still practicing law.

I played golf before I lost my leg, and I was no good and after I lost my leg, I'm still not good.  My biggest goal when I came out of the hospital was to not walk with a limp and, even today, people don't know that I'm an amputee.

Appreciate the things that you have, because you know that when you lose a part of your body, that can always be accommodated with a prosthesis, and as long as you don't have your spirit amputated, you'll be OK.

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