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Tree stand accident injures New Richmond man

Brian VanSomeren hopes his pain is a good reminder for every Wisconsin hunter heading into the woods this weekend.

VanSomeren, New Richmond, Wis., was moving his tree stand to a new location near Baldwin on Sunday and had no idea what was about to happen.

When he attached the hunting equipment to the tree and tightened the nylon strap, he thought he was good to go for the Saturday, Nov. 17, opener. He hopped up on the stand to give it a try and bounced a few times to make sure everything was secure.

Moments later, VanSomeren was falling to the ground 16 feet below.

"I usually put it at 20 feet, but I kept it down a little bit because it's gun season," he said. "That was a good thing."

VanSomeren, 41, said he landed squarely on his feet, but the force of the fall snapped his head back as he landed on the ground.

"I was kind of groggy after that," he said.

He said he was fortunate to have two people along with him, so they were able to assist him after the fall.

A visit to the hospital revealed he had compressed three vertebrae, had a hairline fracture in one vertebra, and had torn ligaments and muscles in his back and neck.

VanSomeren was fitted with a full neck collar and he has an appointment with a back and neck surgeon later this week to see if surgery may be needed in the future.

Even if surgery is not required, VanSomeren said his recovery period will be at least a month.

"You never think something like this is going to happen to you," he said. "But it can."

VanSomeren said he wanted to call the newspaper after his fall, so that others might avoid the same situation that befell him.

"With the new nylon straps instead of the old chain style tree stands, after a while the straps wear out," he explained. "Me speaking out could save someone's life."

Despite all the pain, VanSomeren said his condition won't change his plans for the weekend.

"It's not going to stop me from hunting on Saturday, I can tell you that," he said with a laugh.