Vice Principal Katy Wagner Recovering After Skiing Accident

By Lainie Pennington, Copy Editor

Vice Principal Katy Wagner is home recovering after a skiing accident in early March. On Saturday March 4, Wagner and her now fiancé Adam Ulvi were skiing on Mount Hood when Wagner fell down a 100 foot drop, severely dislocating her neck.

The morning started with Wagner, who is considered an expert skier, and Ulvi trekking to the top of Skibowl There, Ulvi proposed to Wagner and she said yes. Then the couple decided to ski down a less familiar path; Wagner went first and Ulvi followed, but they became separated. As the snow grew deeper, Wagner started to slow down and her ski became stuck. “My leg falls into four feet of snow and I start tumbling downhill,” said Wagner. She continued to slide through the wooded area. “I see a really bright light and think, ‘Oh my gosh, I just broke something.’” Lying still, she continued to slide, eventually falling about 50 feet down a 100 foot drop until a tangle of trees and branches formed a net that caught her upright and kept her from falling farther. However, her arms were pinned against her body and her phone was in the pocket of her jacket.

Wagner was stuck in that position for about 40 minutes until she was able to reach her phone and text her fiance and share her location using Google Hangouts. Both Wagner and Ulvi then called 911 and contacted the ski patrol. It took another two hours for rescuers to locate Wagner and rappel down the cliff to a toboggan that would take her to an ambulance. She was put in a neck collar and a backboard and taken to the hospital. It was a total of six hours from when Wagner was separated from her fiancé to when she was rescued.

They took her first to Kaiser Sunnyside Medical Center where she received a CT scan, but then she was moved to the OHSU intensive care unit. Wagner had severely dislocated the two lowest vertebrae in her cervical spine and went into a 10 hour surgery to repair the damage. The surgeons put a metal plate at the front of her spinal column to stabilize the dislocated vertebrae and two rods attached with screws at the back to help fuse the bones together. “I came really close to cutting my spinal cord,” said Wagner.

Now Wagner is at home and recovering with the support of her family. She has to wear a rigid neck collar 24 hours a day, but is able to walk around for short periods of time. “I don’t want to push it,” she said.

Many Cleveland staff members have visited her in the hospital and at home. With the help of physical therapy she hopes to be back sometime in May. “I really miss everybody at Cleveland,” she said. Cleveland misses her as well, and we all look forward to seeing her soon!