Larry Kenneth “Griff” Griffith gives credit first to God and then to two local men for rescuing him and saving his life after he suffered an epileptic seizure and fell from the Mary Alice bridge into the water below.
“One of our friends, Mike Cox, who lives at Teetersville, saw Kenneth walking toward the bridge as he was in the Mary Alice area on Nov. 15,” said Griffith’s wife Beulah. “Mike said when he turned around and came back through the area he saw a gun laying on the bridge, but no sign of anyone around.”
She said Cox “got out of his vehicle and picked up the gun and looked around, but still saw no one. Mike said he got to looking for Kenneth and for some reason he felt he needed to get on his knees and look under the bridge. When he did he saw Kenneth laying in the water face down.”
Beulah Griffith said Cox and his passenger, Tracy Taylor, of Mary Alice, pulled Larry Griffith out of the water.
They estimated Larry Griffith had been in the water possibly up to 15 minutes, but he was still breathing.
Larry Griffith, 66, doesn’t drive because of his epilepsy, but he enjoys walking in the mountains and “doing a little hunting when I can.”
That particular day he said he had gone into the mountains from his Pansy home and came out at Mary Alice heading home.
“I got to the edge of the bridge and I felt a seizure coming on me,” said Larry Griffith. “I thought I could make it across the bridge to some sunshine and I’d be safe. The next thing I remember I woke up in the hospital.”
When he became conscious, Larry Griffith was in the Harlan ARH Hospital with three broken ribs, a punctured lung and a nicked liver from the impact of his fall. His head and face were severely bruised. He was placed in the intensive care unit. With no improvement the next day, he was flown to Holston Valley Medical Center in Kingsport, Tenn.
“He spent a week at Holston Valley with a drainage tube in his chest,” said Beulah Griffith. “They thought everything was okay, so we came home on a Sunday. The next week he was so sick and couldn’t eat. So, the following week I took him back to the Harlan ARH Hospital and they pulled two liters of fluid and blood from his lungs. A few days later we were told he had MRSA, a staph infection. He was put in the hospital for two weeks and three days with no improvement, so he was flown back to Holston Valley Medical Center.”
At Holston Valley, he was taken immediately to surgery where his lungs were scrapped because of the staph infection, said Beulah Griffith.
“We came home on Christmas Day,” said Beulah Griffith.
“I’ve gotten my wind back pretty good, but I’m still weak,” said Larry Griffith.”I’m getting a lot better. I’ve come a long way from that day I fell. I give God the credit and I give Mike and Tracy credit too for finding me. If they hadn’t, I wouldn’t have lived. They saved my life. It just wasn’t my time to go. I give the doctors who treated me credit too. It was only by the grace of God I’m here today.”
Larry Griffith retired after working 20 years for the Harlan County Road Department. He is a member of the Harlan County Writers Guild and enjoys writing “Holy Ghost inspired thoughts.” He enjoys gardening. The Griffiths are members of the Gulston Church of God.
He has been married for 40 years to Beulah, who retired after working 26 years with the Harlan County Board of Education as a school custodian and in school food services.
They have two children, Curtis and Justin, three granddaughters and two grandsons.
Nola Sizemore may be reached at 606-573-4510, ext. 115, or on Twitter @Nola_hde