Early Friday morning, 11 Gophers men’s track and field athletes walked away from a nerve-racking van accident unscathed. Unfortunately, there were 12 Minnesota competitors on board.
Veteran pole vaulter Tye Harvey didn’t get a chance to display his talents with his teammates at the Big Ten Championships in Champaign, Ill., last weekend. After suffering a broken wrist in a rental van accident, Harvey spent the weekend in the hospital.
The accident occurred about 20 miles outside of Chicago early Friday morning. The Gophers had just gotten off a flight at Midway Airport and were traveling the final leg of the trip to Champaign by rental van. Harvey was sitting in the passenger seat of the van.
“I moved my seat all of the way forward because my teammate who was sitting behind me has really long legs,” Harvey said. “I guess I was too close to the dashboard and there wasn’t enough room for cushion when the accident happened.”
Harvey’s wrist injury proved to be extensive. The impact of the crash separated his right hand from his arm.
“I crushed the socket that holds my arm to my hand,” Harvey said. “I damaged several nerves and ripped a tendon right off of the bone.”
Harvey spent Friday night at Christ Hospital in Chicago. He flew back to Minneapolis on Saturday morning and underwent three hours of surgery at University Hospital. Because of the severity of the injury, a metal plate was inserted into his wrist, as well as five screws and four pins to hold the bones together.
“My doctor, Dr. Vanheest, has been my savior through all of this,” Harvey said.
It will likely be eight weeks before Harvey’s stitches, pins and screws are removed. He will not be able to compete at the NCAA Championships June 4-7. Harvey automatically qualified for the national meet on April 20 with a vault of 18 feet 1-1/4 inches at the Mt. SAC Relays in Walnut, Calif.
The Big Ten and NCAA Championship meets are the premier meets of the Gophers’ season. Because Harvey wasn’t able to compete at Big Tens and will not compete at NCAA’s, he may try an alternative measure for next year.
“I’m going to try to appeal for a sixth year of eligibility,” Harvey said. “The entire season is spent training for those two meets. I’m going to do what I can to get them back.”
A redshirt season could’ve been used in this case, but Harvey took his redshirt year last season after injuring himself while snowboarding in Colorado. Even though injury forced him to sit out two years of Big Ten and NCAA Championship meets, he holds a positive attitude.
Harvey also credited several others for their encouragement and support throughout the ordeal.
“My teammates have shown undying support for me and also my coach and my family,” Harvey said. “Everybody around me has been extremely helpful.”
Determined to regain strength in his right hand and continue to pole vault, Harvey already has a plan for the summer months.
“Rehab, rehab and more rehab,” Harvey said. “I’m already so far behind. I’m going to work on getting everything up to par again.”