It started out like just another Memorial Day gathering for Josh Rivera, Isaiah Rivera, Mike Perkins, Brian Cathey, Will Cathey and Charles Gilbert.
“A group of us went riding in Divide,” Josh Rivera said.
But things would quickly take a turn.
“We decided to go out and do another run and we were probably about 20 minutes into it when all this happened,” Rivera said. “You just don’t expect something like that to happen.”
Their friend Eddie Kerr was lagging behind, and when seconds turned to minutes, they knew something was wrong.
“We continued back to the woods and as we got back in there we came around this corner and Eddie was just sitting on the ground and he was just holding his throat,” Rivera said. “And there’s just blood.”
Kerr had been impaled by a tree branch.
“He was standing up, so it actually lifted him off the bike,” Rivera said. “He had to pull himself off that tree, and I think the only thing that really stopped it from going through was his shoulder blades.”
Kerr’s injuries were severe, and there was no cell service to call for help.
“Will luckily had some medical training, so he threw his bike down on the ground and put pressure on his neck right away and he yelled at me to go get help, so I ran back,” Rivera said.
The entire group sprung into action.
“It took a whole village to save this guy’s life. It was insane,” Rivera said.
“When Josh told me about the story, it was very clearly a team effort, in that they all had to come together and take different roles,” said Stacy Rader, Josh Rivera’s older sister.
In an interview after the accident, Kerr revealed what was going through his mind at the time.
“I just figure that time was not on my side and I was running out of it,” he said.
Luckily, he had just enough. A UCHealth Lifeline Helicopter Team rushed him to Memorial Hospital, where he had surgery.
“He’s very thankful. Every time I see him, he’s always telling me ‘thank you,'” Rivera said.
The next day, Rivera went back to remove the branch that almost killed his friend so others wouldn’t face the same fate.
He’s held on to it ever since, and it serves as a small reminder of what could have been a much bigger tragedy.
“I’m very, very proud of him,” Rader said. “That he did the right thing and that they kept it together and ultimately saved their friend.”
All of this year’s Hometown Heroes will receive their awards at a dinner held at the Broadmoor this Thursday.