Benefit planned for local man injured in explosionWritten by Matt Liasse | | email@example.com
Galen Orner III has always been a fighter. His wife of almost 10 years, Josie, has a picture of him as a kid, showing his muscles and making a growling face like a bear.
“It just reminds me of something from ‘Rocky’ or something,” Josie said.
On Aug. 23, Orner’s fighting side was in full force. While working at Stoneco Inc., an asphalt production company in Maumee, he was using diesel to clean a drum, a piece of equipment that can reach 700 degrees, when an explosion left 63 percent of his body with third-degree burns.
“That’s what was said,” his mother Tina said. “We don’t know for sure.”
Josie, who was home at the time, got a call immediately after the accident. When she arrived at his work, Orner was already bandaged up and surrounded by paramedics.
“I was literally sick to my stomach,” Josie said. “You don’t actually know what that saying means until you feel that.
“It’s the strangest thing,” she said. “When I got on the expressway, I felt like everything was in slow motion. To the point where the lady next to me when I was merging on, she spilled her coffee and I watched it. … [I saw] every little drop fall in her lap.”
Since that day, Orner has been at Mercy St. Vincent Medical Center. He spent four weeks in a medically induced coma. Josie stayed beside his hospital bed every day.
“Times before when I had anything happen I’ve always had Galen there, so it was OK to cry and break down and be a mess,” Josie said. “My thing is, I just want to stay in bed. And I knew I couldn’t do that. So, I guess it was just something that you say, ‘OK, you [have] to be the strong one now.’”
Orner has already had five surgeries with one more scheduled. His right hand and arm, left leg, lower right leg and abdomen have been grafted, cadaver skin has been put on both legs and a tracheotomy performed to help him breathe. There is still a chance he will lose his right hand.
Despite the many surgeries, Orner is doing well, his family said.
“He’s done a lot already and he’s progressed really fast,” Josie said. “We’ve been lucky with that. He heals really well and the doctors are just really surprised by how well he’s been healing.”
The doctors’ goal is to have Orner home by Thanksgiving, but there are no guarantees.
“He just seems to be very high-spirited, very willful,” his father Galen “J.R.” Orner said. “He’s very positive. I look forward to when we can get a chance to get him home. I think he has a strong will and that’s probably why he’s weeks ahead in his healing time. [That attitude] is something he’s carried all his life.”
This is not the first time J.R. has had a family member severely burned.
“My father was burned [with] third-degree burns on his legs when I was a kid and I got to see him work through that,” J.R. said. “Yes, it took a year, year and a half to get 100 percent on his feet. These things were going through my mind and I know Galen can do that.”
Visits with Orner are limited only to family members right now. Orner’s two children, Jonathan and McKayla, have gotten to see him twice.
“It’s just so hard for me to even go in there and see him go through all this,” Tina said. “I’ve gotten a lot stronger. I have my moments.”
A spaghetti dinner benefit for Orner will be from 1-6 p.m. Nov. 4, planned by extended family members. The event is open to the public and will be at Holland Gardens Banquet Hall, 6530 Angola Road, in Holland. It will include dinner, a silent auction, a bake sale, music and entertainment. The family will also be selling T-shirts and wristbands in support of Orner.
“Galen draws a crowd,” J.R. said. “It’s a wonderful thing. It’s love for no matter what whether someone’s healthy or someone’s sick.”
The idea for the benefit came from Orner’s sister, Heather Piasecki, and Josie’s sister, Nichole Delarosa. They came up with the spaghetti dinner without telling Josie.
“I’ve had so much great support from his family, from my family, even strangers,” Josie said.
The community has also come together in support of Orner. A few donated items in the silent auction include tickets for the Toledo Zoo’s “Lights Before Christmas,” tickets to the Connxtions Comedy Club and a gift card to Expresso Car Wash. The spaghetti served at the event will be donated by Bob Evans. Springfield High School, from which Orner graduated in 1998, has also lent support.
“I never expected so many people,” Josie said. “It makes you really appreciate that there are so many people out there that care still. Honestly, I was overwhelmed for a while when they were telling me everything that everyone was willing to donate. You don’t realize that there are still really good people out there. We’ve been really lucky with everything that everyone’s been doing.”
Tickets for the event are $10 for adults and $5 for children. They can be purchased in advance by calling (877) 798-5996. Anyone who cannot make the event but still would like to donate can do so at any Fifth Third Bank. Checks can be made to “Support The Journey – Galen III.”
“He’s the nicest, caring, most giving person that anybody will meet,” Josie said. “That’s why he has so many friends and family come out for support.”