TOWNSEND — Last March, Tom Talcott of Townsend was traveling on Chase Road in Lunenburg as part of his daily routine as a plumbing and heating sales representative, when he was involved in a fatal two-car accident.
Dexter Therrien of Webster, N.H., died Monday, March 23, when his Jeep Wrangler crossed the median strip and collided with Talcott’s Chevrolet pickup truck. Talcott suffered severe injuries in the crash and was taken by helicopter to UMass Memorial Medical Center in Worcester. Neither driver was wearing a seat belt.
Officer Tad Rochette of the Townsend Police Department witnessed the accident.
“There was nothing Tom Talcott could have done to avoid the accident. It was over in a second and a half,” said Rochette.
“It was a saving grace that Officer Rochette was there at the scene of the accident. Everything started rolling because of him,” said Talcott’s wife, Lisa.
Lisa Talcott received a phone call from UMass Memorial at 5:45 p.m. the day of the accident, three hours after the crash had occurred. Her husband had been trapped in his vehicle and rescuers had to use the Jaws of Life to remove him from the wreckage. Tom’s hip socket was shattered, his left arm was broken in four places and his right orbital floor (bone that keeps your eye in the socket) was also broken.
At the hospital Tom had three surgeries to repair his hip and arm and to install a titanium plate to hold his eye in the socket.
“My sister Robin set things right into place, along with my mom and sister Karen. They made sure that each of our children Brook, Brianna and Brett was looked after, and that the house was full of people to care for them. My in-laws, and sister-in-law, and many friends came to offer support while at the hospital. My brother in-law and his wife flew in from New Mexico with their five-year-old twins to surprise Tom. It was amazing to have that amount of support.” said Lisa.
Talcott’s orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Jody Siegel, was phenomenal, said Lisa.
“She was very strong and direct and asked Tom what it was he wanted to be able to do after the surgeries. Tom said he wanted to golf, ski, snowmobile, and do what he had done before the accident. Dr. Siegel said her goal was just that.
“It was very powerful,” said Lisa. “I can’t say enough about the emergency room staff and all the nurses and doctors that helped care for Tom. The intensive care unit was so amazing with bright windows and great staff. The nurses knew Tom liked orange popsicles and always had them available. They made me extremely comfortable with rolling in beds and chairs while I stayed with Tom. Friends were bringing food into the hospital and our family had meals being brought to them at home.”
Talcott was transferred to Burbank rehabilitation for 10 days in Fitchburg after leaving UMass Memorial.
“The staff was caring, responsive and so great with Tom. They even moved him to another room on opening day to watch the Red Sox” said Lisa.
Prior to rehab, Talcott was seldom allowed out of bed because of a blood clot in the leg and pneumonia. The doctors didn’t want him moving around. It was a lot for him to get up after several weeks of being bedridden. He had to learn to maneuver without putting weight on his left leg.
Thirteen weeks of not being able to use his leg forced him to use a platform walker to help him walk. He relied a lot on right side of body to get around. The staff went through daily living skills with Tom so he could function at home.
“I figured out what things they wanted me to do and I would do them” said Talcott.
“He worked so hard to get home” said wife Lisa.
Talcott’s employer, FW Webb, was very supportive. They told the Talcott’s to not worry about anything. They helped get workman’s compensation set up for the family and checked on his status every day. There was a list of conditions in order for Tom to come home. They needed a ramp built, medical equipment delivered and for the home to be setup so he could function.
Friends from Custom Contracting Inc. and family all pitched in to get the home ready. The Townsend Little League collected gifts, groceries, and gas cards. The Richard Maghakian School sent cards from the Kindergarten students where Lisa was an assistant teacher. The school also collected gift cards for the family.
“We are both thankful for each and every day. We don’t sweat the small stuff anymore,” said Lisa.
Tom went back to work part time in July for and is now working full time.
“I think my husband was always a positive person, but now he looks for the good in every situation. He has had so many people coming up to him telling him they wear their seatbelt all the time because of Tom.” The parents give extra kisses and hugs and the children enjoy their time with dad more. “We never worried about the well-being of our children through all of this because our family and friends were just so giving and supportive, along with the community and we take what each day brings. We spent a whole day writing over a hundred thank-you’s. The support was incredible.”