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Man recalls the moment a falling tree knocked him unconscious and sent him to ICU


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Kevin Hanners in a hospital bed after a tree fell on him. | Courtesy Jo Hanners

BOISE — A freak accident on a Boise riverbank left a native eastern Idahoan with only one functioning limb.

Kevin Hanners, 34, is from Pocatello and graduated from Idaho State University. After going to college, he moved to Boise to pursue a job.

He often spent summers floating the Boise River and was there on July 11 with a group of friends. They decided to take a break from being on the water and went to shore where a group of people were swinging into the river from a tree swing.

“(We were trying to have) normal, summertime fun with this pandemic,” Hanners told “My friends we’re going to go one more time (on the swing) and we were going to go back in the river, but I remember somebody shouting, ‘It’s falling,’ and everybody scattered.”

A large tree came crashing down landing on 10 people and injuring at least four, KBOI TV reports.

Hanners was knocked unconscious and suffered a skull fracture, broken arm, fractured ribs, broken pelvis, broken leg and both feet are broken, according to a GoFundMe.

Hanners’ mother, Jo Hanners, said it wasn’t the tree with the swing that snapped, but an old rotted tree next to it.

“I originally started to run inland thinking the tree might fall towards the water,” Hanners said. “But as I was watching it, it looked like it was going to fall on the land, so then I tried to veer left and all I remember is a huge trunk portion on my right side hitting the ground. The next thing I know I’m waking up looking at the sky.”

The tree that fell on a Boise riverbank. | Courtesy Kevin Hanners

Jo will never forget the moment she learned her son had been critically injured.

“It happened around 4:30 p.m. and we got a phone call about 7 p.m. that night from the emergency room saying that he had an accident, was going into surgery (and) that a tree had fallen on him,” she said. “We quickly grabbed a few things and jumped in the car.”

Hanners and his buddy, Andrew Richard, were rushed to the intensive care unit at Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise. Andrew has a broken back, four fractured ribs, a partially collapsed lung and he has lost all mobility from the waist down, a GoFundMe explains.

Richard’s fiancĂ©, Kaitlin, was also injured, but according to the GoFundMe, she is home from the hospital and recovering.

Jo said she was able to be with her son when he was in the ICU. Since being moved out of the unit, she can only talk to him on the phone due to COVID-19 restrictions.

“He wishes time could go back,” Jo said. “He’s trying to hang in there with good spirits, and I’m glad he’s alive.”

Hanners has a long road of recovery ahead of him, but he said he’s grateful for the people who immediately stepped in and have taken care of him since the accident.

“I could’ve ended up a lot worse,” Hanners said.

Two GoFundMe accounts have been set up for Hanners. They can be found here and here.

Courtesy Kevin Hanners

Courtesy Kevin Hanners

Our attorneys tell us we need to put this disclaimer in stories involving fundraisers: does not assure that the money deposited to the account will be applied for the benefit of the persons named as beneficiaries.