Minnesota man lucky to be alive after hunting accident

Sanford AirMed and Sanford Trauma Center in Fargo team with Jamestown hospital to save life

A nurse adjusts an IV for a young man who is lying in a recliner at a Sanford Health hospital.

Mitchell Amundson of Dilworth, Minnesota, is lucky to be alive.

“Unfortunately, I remember the accident,” said Amundson.

On the day after Thanksgiving, Amundson, age 26, was in a serious hunting accident just outside of Jamestown, North Dakota.

“As soon as it happened, my legs went numb and all of a sudden I was like, ‘Wow, this really hurts,’” he said.

While hunting coyotes with a friend, he was shot through the right flank, with the bullet exiting his left side. He started to bleed internally, and the fight for his life began.

“The phone rang and it was the paramedic from the Jamestown hospital that called me and I got the words that no mom ever wants to hear, you know, ‘We have your son here in the emergency room. He’s in extreme critical condition,’” said Deanna Amundson, Mitchell’s mother.

Flight of his life

Mitchell’s wounds were so severe that the hospital in Jamestown could not save him. So they called Sanford AirMed to bring him to Sanford’s Level I Trauma Center in Fargo. Mitchell’s heart stopped multiple times, including at least once on the helicopter. He also lost more than four liters of blood. The human body contains five.

“The helicopter crew, they’re not just transportation,” said Enej Gasevic, M.D., a specialist in trauma and surgical critical care. “They’re professionals of the highest order.”

Dr. Gasevic was one of several trauma and critical care surgeons at Sanford Fargo who worked on Mitchell, and he said every step went according to plan, which was crucial in saving Mitchell’s life.

“He would’ve likely died if any one of those things didn’t quite happen the way it did. He had a critical injury, he had major blood vessel that was ruptured. The crew in Jamestown was able to do immediate damage control. The helicopter crew did their job and kept him alive throughout the trip here. Everybody did kind of above and beyond by the time that he got here. And then, he lucked out,” said Dr. Gasevic. “He attempted to die multiple times, and he’s still around to tell the story.”

‘My baby’s still here’

Even after being stabilized, doctors still didn’t know if Mitchell would recover his brain function. But three days after his accident, he began to stir.

“The nurse grabbed his hands and said, ‘Mitchell, can you squeeze my hand?’ And he squeezed her right hand. And she said, ‘Can you move your toes, wiggle your toes?’ And he moved his left toes,” said Deanna.

“My baby’s still here. I didn’t know if I would walk out of that hospital without a child … and I got mine back. I can’t say thank you enough to those people. The right people were in the right spot at the right time to save his life over and over,” she said.

After 20 days at Sanford, Mitchell finally went home. He’s moving slowly now, but he’s recovering. And he says as soon as he’s able, he wants to go back out hunting.

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Posted In Emergency Medicine, Fargo, Here for all. Here for good., Jamestown, Rural Health