By Dana Delgado
BERTRAM — A harrowing motorcycle accident Douglas (Doug) Wall was involved in on the early afternoon of April 26 is still pretty much a blur.
What has become very clear to the Police Sergeant with the Bertram Police Department is that he has an army of angels he never knew he had.
A blown back tire while going 60 MPH on State Highway 29 near the intersection of FM 1431 in Llano County caused Wall to lose control of his motorcycle. He managed to guide it to the grassy area before rolling his motorcycle multiple times for a seemingly endless distance. The force thrust him up against a fence.
He says he was in so much pain, he wasn’t sure he would survive. To compound his injuries, Wall had landed on a patch of prickly pears and a mound of fire ants that immediately began swarming and biting him. Unable to move without severe pain, Sgt. Wall said, “I knew I was in a lot of trouble.”
Laying there, a thousand thoughts and questions raced through his mind. One question that consumed him was, “What’s my wife going to say?” Other questions dealt with him not wearing his helmet and possibly not being able to care for his family because of his injuries. Another pressing concern surrounded his fear of having a potential head injury because of the blood he suspected was on his scalp.
His uncle, Sonny Holmes, and father, Mike Dreyling, who had been with him on that leisurely Saturday ride through the Hill Country, anxiously called for help and got word out to family members. They were not far from home and needed to let family know what had happened.
“Suddenly, a blonde lady runs up to help,” Wall recalled. “She was like an angel.”
Doug’s angel at the scene was Kim Whitlock. The Marble Falls resident was driving home from the Crawfish Festival in Llano when she came upon the accident, stopped, and went over to check on him. Emergency vehicles had not yet arrived.
“He was conscious but pretty much out of it,” said Ms. Whitlock, who had previously worked in emergency medical services for 14 years in Colorado before moving to Burnet County. “I held on to his head and talked to him, but was not going to move him. I was worried about him.”
While attending to off-duty officer, Ms. Whitlock had knelt on a patch of prickly pears herself and been swarmed by the fire ants that inflicted hundreds of bites on her.
When emergency medical help arrived, Ms. Whitlock, who works for a utility service company, T & D Solutions in Johnson City, inconspicuously climbed back into her car and went home. For days, Wall would only know his mysterious helper as the blonde lady, his angel who had comforted him before medical help arrived.
Her identity became known a few days later when Ms. Whitlock shared the experience with a friend who happened to know Wall’s wife, Teresa. The next day and despite his pain, Wall called his blonde angel to thank her for her compassion. When asked why she had stopped, she replied that it was “her duty” to help others and Wall needed help.
Eventually, Wall was airlifted to Seton Medical Center Williamson in Round Rock. He was treated for fractures in both knees. Following surgery, a metal plate was inserted into his left knee while a brace will help reset his other knee. He also had broken ribs, and was treated for severe fire ant bites. The blood on his head that he feared was from lacerations on his head turned out to be oil from the motorcycle much to his relief. He was moved to Seton South in Austin for rehabilitation before being discharged to complete his recovery at home. Whenever he’s up to it, Wall helps his wife at Oaks Nursing Center in Burnet where she is the Admissions Coordinator.
As if one angel wasn’t enough, a community of angels came out to wish him well and to lift his spirits. His fellow officers at Bertram and his professional colleagues at the Burnet County Sheriff’s Department and other county offices and organizations reached out to Wall with compassion, support and donations.
Oaks Nursing Center along with Hwy 29 BBQ and Rick Bindseil Voice Productions have scheduled a benefit at 7 p.m. Friday, May 30, for the injured police officer and his family. The benefit including a barbecue plate for $10, a live auction and music, will be hosted by the Oaks Nursing Center in the dining room at 507 W. Jackson Street in Burnet. Donations for the silent auction as well as monetary donations are being accepted. All proceeds will go to the Wall family to cover medical expenses.
Additional information on the benefit is available from Christie Richardson or Brandi Hoover from the Oaks Nursing Center at (512) 756-6044.
A wave of love and concern flowed from Bertram Elementary School where Sgt. Wall has conducted safety classes and provides security as part of a grant between Burnet CISD and the Bertram PD. While recovering in the hospital, Wall received hundreds of get well cards.
“The kids drew pictures of hearts, a police cruiser as well as pictures of me,” he said. “It was very emotional. I care so much for them and miss them so much.”
Wall said the support from everyone has been touching and he is so appreciative.
“I didn’t know how much I meant to people and that I really make a difference in people’s lives until this happened,” he said. “I feel their love and they’ve made me feel like a superstar. I want to thank everyone.”
And the person who most worried him about what she would say when the accident happened was nothing but angelic. When his wife Teresa arrived at the scene, Wall recalls her saying, “I’m here. Everything is going to be fine.”
“She’s so wonderful,” he said.
The couple, originally from Dallas, has been married for 22 years. They were high school sweethearts and were married two weeks after he proposed.
“I knew I loved her after only two weeks of dating,” he said. “It’s the best thing I’ve ever done. She’s my best friend.”
Sgt. Wall has been with the Bertram Police Department for four years and is the patrol supervisor. He was BPD Officer of the Year for 2013.
“We’re looking forward for him coming back as soon as he can,” said Bertram Police Chief Tracy Weems.
Sgt. Hall said he should be up on his feet in about three weeks and hopes to return to work in August.
“I’m going to come back stronger, faster, and better,” he said. “I can’t wait to see the kids at Bertram and want to do a lot more with my family and the community. I’ll never take things for granted again. You can lose everything in an instant. My whole outlook on life has changed.”