Vicki Rhodes falls three stories, breaks bones in her ankles and feet
A Salem woman who wanted to be a traveling nurse had a brush with death July 27 in Utah after dropping from a burning building's third-story window.
Vicki Rhodes, 50, of Salem woke up to what she thought was someone knocking on the door of her condo in Sandy, Utah, according to her mother Pat Crouch. As she went to answer the door she noticed smoke coming into the apartment from underneath it. When she opened the door she was greeted by a hallway full of fire, Crouch said.
Rhodes shut the door and went to her bedroom where she put jeans on over her pajamas. She pushed the screen out of the bedroom window and shouted for help to fire crews below. Crouch said the firefighters told Rhodes to hold on as they got a ladder to her, but the fire had already entered the apartment and had pushed her out. "She told them she couldn't wait," Crouch said.
Rhodes hung onto the window until weakness and pain from the fire caused her to lose her grip. She fell three stories and landed on her feet, shattering the bones in her ankles and feet.
"After she fell she looked up and saw fire coming out of the window," Crouch said. She said help probably could not have gotten to Rhodes in time.
Rescue workers transported Rhodes to the University of Utah's Health Sciences Center where she underwent surgery. "She said her feet and ankles are screws and pins," Crouch said.
Besides breaking her ankles, Rhodes received burns to her hands and suffered from smoke inhalation. "They're trying to get her oxygen stabilized," Crouch said. "She probably inhaled more smoke than they thought."
Crouch added that if smoke was already coming in under the door, she could have been inhaling it while she slept.
"Maybe by this weekend she'll be transported to Jonesboro," Crouch said. She said Rhodes will be flown back because the condition of her ankles and feet will not allow for an overland trip back.
Crouch said Rhodes will probably be in a Jonesboro medical facility for three months. "She can't put any weight on her feet," Crouch said.
Crouch had worked at a hospital in Midvale, Utah, for two days before the fire. She visited with her son, Keith Rhodes, who is with the Air Force and stationed in Idaho, for a week and a half before she started working, Crouch said.
Crouch's other son, Heath Rhodes, flew to Salt Lake City last week, Crouch said. She said Heath will drive his mother's car back to Arkansas.
Crouch said Rhodes decided to become a traveling nurse after her sons moved out. She worked at White River Medical Center in Batesville before changing careers.
"She plans to go back to work if she is able to," Crouch said.
Crouch said she calls her daughter every morning. She said talked to her daughter before speaking to The News July 31.
"Her voice sounded better," Crouch said. "She talked more like Vicki this morning."
Rhodes' story has been picked up by the Salt Lake City media. It was aired on local television stations and reported on in newspapers statewide in Utah. KAIT, channel 8 of Jonesboro also picked up on the story.
She said Rhodes' perception of people in Utah has changed since her accident. "She didn't believe people there (Utah) were nice," Crouch said. "This changed her mind."