Posted on Oct 10, 2007

An Upper Peninsula Michigan teacher is in critical condition after falling in the school gymnasium during a homecoming activity. The Rapid River High School teacher was participating in hockey match between school seniors and faculty when he tripped and crashed head-first into the base of the wooden basketball bleachers.

Mike Winkowski, who teaches business education at Rapid River, remained in intensive care at Marquette General Hospital.

“He tripped and fell head first and hit the base of the bleachers. It was just a freak accident,” School Superintendent Terri Mileski said.

Winkowski was transported to St. Francis Hospital for preliminary tests before being transferred to Marquette, where he underwent seven hours of surgery.

“It just shows you how things can change in a heartbeat,” Mileski commented. “It just shows you life is fragile.”

Son Heard Hospital Officials Mention “Paralysis

Winkowski’s son, Jarrett said, “Dad was running for a ball and tripped and fell head first into the bleachers. He never lost consciousness, but on arrival at the hospital, they said he was paralyzed from the waist down. He did have function of his hands and shoulders. He was in a lot of pain then, but still managed to be his same witty self.”

Reports were that Winkowski fractured a bone in his upper spine but did not sever his spinal cord.