UnityPoint Health - Des Moines

Cody Carpenter

In the blink of an eye, life changed for teenager Cody Carpenter.


"I was giving directions and standing pretty far back," Carpenter says, thinking back on the accident that left him with a shattered right leg, and a badly broken left ankle. "It was late January and an icy day. The truck started spinning on the ice, and eventually caught on the gravel and shot backward."


Cody, who was 18 and a freshman at Iowa State University at the time, barely had enough time to leap in the air before the large rental truck slammed into him and pinned him against the home he was helping his parents move out of.


"I remember jumping to try to avoid it," Cody says. "But the rest I don't really remember. It all happened so fast. It's really just a blur."


Cody was taken from the scene of the accident by ambulance to Lucas County Health Center in Chariton. He was assessed there and then sent on to Iowa Methodist Medical Center for emergency surgery on his legs. At Iowa Methodist, he was treated by Matthew Weresh, M.D., Des Moines Orthopaedic Surgeons.


Dr. Weresh used rods and screws to piece back Cody's right leg and reset his left ankle.


"My right leg was so shattered," Cody says. "It was like woodchips."


Following surgery, Cody's right leg was put in an immobilizer and his left leg in a boot. He spent close to a month in the hospital recovering before being discharged home. The extent of his injuries forced him to drop his second semester classes at Iowa State.


"It's funny how much you take walking for granted," Cody says. "I remember lying in bed and not being able to get up to do anything. I couldn't even get a glass of water for myself or make a sandwich if I wanted to."


But Cody wasn't down for long. He began rehabilitation at home, and was soon mobile enough in his wheelchair to reenroll in classes at Iowa State. He moved into a dorm that could accommodate him in the wheelchair and got back to living as normally as possible.


Now, just months removed from the accident, he is becoming more and more active. During the summer, he even spent time on the water, whizzing around behind a speedboat on a kneeboard.


Reflecting on the accident and rehabilitation, Cody says it seems surreal.


"It was really weird," Cody says of the experience. "I remember standing up for the first time and I felt so tall.


"I was lucky. I think about what may have happened if I hadn't of jumped when I did. I am just really lucky."

He also feels fortunate to have been cared for by Dr. Weresh and the entire team at Iowa Methodist.


"Dr. Weresh was great," Cody says. "He is one of the nicest people I've ever met. He was so helpful and always there when I had a question or needed something.


"Everyone else was helpful too," he continues. "It was a nice facility and everyone who cared for me made a very unpleasant experience tolerable. I know it sounds funny, but I actually enjoyed my stay."