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OCH physician aids spectator of golf tourney

August 18, 2012

By CARL SMITH
sdnnews@bellsouth.net

OCH Regional Medical Center employees take pride in serving the residents of the Golden Triangle, but one local doctor’s services were needed after a freak accident at Kiwah Island, S.C. last week during the 2012 PGA Championship.

Kenneth Thomas, a urologist at OCH, was walking up the right side of the seventh fairway on Aug. 10 when he said spectators began shouting about an incoming shot. That’s when he said he saw and heard Australian golfer Adam Scott’s shot pass over the field, head toward spectators and strike Jean Otter, a Maryland golf fan, in the temple. Thomas immediately jumped into the fray and assisted the victim, who was knocked to the ground and began bleeding profusely.

“When you hear that kind of noise and it involves a person, it alarms you,” he said. “I introduced myself, told her I was a doctor and told her I was going to check and see how hurt she was. I noticed she was bleeding quite significantly from her head. With a scalp laceration, two things you normally see are significant bleeding, and you can have a pretty large hematoma of blood collection between the skull and skin. I didn’t question my actions, I thought it was the appropriate thing to do.”

Otter said she heard the spectators’ warnings and attempted to cover her head with her arms, but the shot hit her with enough force to knock her to the ground.

“I realized what happened and held my hand on my head. I could feel the lump swelling up quickly,” she said. “I pulled my hand back, and there was blood everywhere. That’s when Dr. Thomas jumped in. He stayed there with me and kept talking to me to make sure I was coherent.”

While Thomas tended to Otter, Scott approached the injured fan and checked on her status. Due to PGA rules, Scott had to find his ball and play through. Before he left the scene, he checked on Otter, apologized and signed souvenirs for her and her husband.

“I honestly hoped (the incident) didn’t mess his game up,” Otter said. “He was very nice and seemed very concerned.”

The event’s medical staff was dispatched to the scene but did not arrive until after a rain shower began. Thomas, Otter said, stayed with her through the slight sprinkle.

“In this day in age, I thought it was unbelievable to have someone you who doesn’t even know you jump in and try to help, especially when there is blood involved,” Otter said. “I thought it was one of the most kind and generous acts I’ve ever seen. I’m sure I would have lost a lot more blood and have had more side effects that I wound up with without Dr. Thomas’ help.”

Otter, an avid golfer herself, said she played 18 holes of golf herself Saturday, only one day after the incident, and went back to the tournament, too.

“I may be a little more careful where I stand, but that incident won’t keep me away from the game,” she said.

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