Anders Epperly, a senior at Bigfork High School, is resting comfortably at Kalispell Regional Medical Center following an accident during track practice at the school on Thursday.
Epperly, who competes in the javelin, was struck in the chest by a javelin outside the event’s sector. He was retrieving his javelin and bent down to pick something up when it happened.
“They yelled: ‘Look out!’ (to Anders),” Jimmy Epperly, Anders’ father and a Bigfork assistant track coach, said.
“He turned and looked up and it caught him in the right chest area below the collarbone. It went in a couple inches, bounced out and was bleeding pretty good, but they got the bleeding stopped.”
The accident happened halfway through the practice session after school.
“The kid who threw it made a bad throw and the wind kind of took it,” Jimmy Epperly said.
An ambulance treated Anders Epperly at the scene and he was later transported by helicopter to KRMC.
“Our (coaching) staff is experienced, good people,” Jimmy Epperly said. “They were on him right away.”
Jimmy Epperly, who coaches the long, triple and high jumpers, did not see the accident happen.
“We’re pretty thankful that it wasn’t worse,” he said. “It could have been a lot worse. He took a shot. He will got out of here in the next day or so.”
Doctors at KRMC inserted a chest tube in Anders Epperly during a 45 minute to hour operation Thursday evening to keep his lung inflated, Jimmy Epperly said.
“He’s doing really well,” Jimmy Epperly said. “His spirits are much better today. We’ll watch and make sure it doesn’t get infected. He should make a speedy recovery.”
Jimmy Epperly said athletes, coaches and spectators should always be vigilant when in the vicinity of the weight and throwing events.
“It’s a good warning for everyone out there to be safe,” he said. “If it (javelin) had caught him in the center of the chest, or the neck, he wouldn’t be here today.
“I was pretty scared at first,” he added.
Anders Epperly, who hopes to play college basketball, led Bigfork to back-to-back state basketball championships and helped the Vikings to the Class B semifinals in football last fall. The guard/quarterback is a Class B all-state player in both sports — three times in basketball and once in football.