Commissioner Barron Hetherington out of hospital

·3 min read

Jul. 25—Schuylkill County commissioners Chairman Barron L. "Boots" Hetherington is out of the hospital and thankful to be alive.

He has nine cracked ribs and other internal injuries.

"A couple more inches away, I would have broken my neck," Hetherington said Monday by phone, describing how he landed on his back in an 18-foot fall off a stack of hay after he lost his footing. "I was unloading hay. That's something I've done my whole life."

He was taken to Geisinger in Danville following the accident, which occurred inside a barn at his B&R Farms property near Ringtown on July 12. He spent most of the first week of his hospitalization in the intensive care unit and was released Friday.

Five other people were in the barn at the time, including Mark Burnhouser, a physical therapist with Lehigh Valley Health Network who had stopped by to get hay for his horse. Hetherington said Burnhouser told him to stay still and focus on his breathing.

Hetherington said he remembers Ringtown Fire & Rescue and Shenandoah Valley Ambulance responding.

Emergency medical services personnel said the bruise they saw on the back of his head prompted them to call for a medical helicopter to fly him to the hospital. A supervisor with the Schuylkill County Communications Center said previously that the helicopter landed at the Ringtown Recreation Field at 1:05 p.m.

About his time in the ICU, Hetherington said, "The biggest problem was I had fluid in my lung."

Coughing remains a painful experience, he said, describing it as "someone jabbing a sword" down his chest.

"I can't push, pull or lift for eight weeks," he said. "It's one day at a time right now."

Hetherington didn't elaborate on his other internal injuries.

A post on the B&R Farms Facebook page from Friday evening says "Boots is home and resting."

As to not working for eight weeks, "Telling a farmer he can't farm is a tough call but fortunately we have options for getting the work done," the post says.

Hetherington noted he is getting help from family, friends and employees, and that Halabura Farms in Orwigsburg will do some hauling that he would normally do.

To be at meeting

Hetherington said he has been in contact with county Administrator Gary R. Bender and fellow commissioners George F. Halcovage Jr. and Gary J. Hess.

"I plan to be there Wednesday," he said about the weekly board meeting.

Otherwise, as to his official duties, "I'm still a phone call away," he said.

He said his wife will drive him to Pottsville.

On Monday, he was busy answering emails from the many people who inquired about his condition.

"I've got hundreds of cards and emails," he said, calling the support humbling.

The Facebook post from the farm says: "Thank you all that held us up in prayer, he had a very close call. We are grateful for so many friends and prayer warriors."

Contact the writer:; 570-628-6023