Amputee uses story to raise awareness of road worker safety - WKOW 27: Madison, WI Breaking News, Weather and Sports

Amputee uses story to raise awareness of road worker safety

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Pewaukee (WKOW)-- Making the best out of a bad situation. That's the goal of sanitation worker Mark Friend, who lost his leg more than a year ago, when a car hit him during his daily route.

Friend says more than 100 people are responsible for saving his life. It all happened on January 5th 2013 while working his daily route near Stoughton. Friend was hit from behind by a car speeding by. He was pinned between the car and his garbage truck and lost significant amounts of blood. Doctors say he received 63 units of blood when the average human body can only hold 10-12.

"If it weren't for all those people working so hard, I might not have survived. I'm here today because all of their hard work," Friend says.

He's thankful to all of the fire fighters, doctors and physical therapists who are responsible for his recovery. To honor their life-saving efforts Friend has put patches on his prosthetic leg from every hospital and emergency responder who helped save his life. He says it's a daily reminder that inspires him during his journey to recovery which is far from being over.

"Still have a long ways to go. I wish it could just be over, but I'm doing my best to stay positive," Friend says.

Every week Friend makes two trips to the Westwood Health and Fitness Center in Pewaukee for physical therapy. He's working hard to strengthen his muscles for yet another surgery on April 10th. The surgery will help to fix his other leg so he won't have to use crutches to walk anymore, which will help him get around better so he can focus on his new mission in life.

"If I could save one life, everything that happened to me would be worth it. Just by one person surviving," Friend says.

His story inspired a new state law that doubles the fines for traffic violations committed near garbage and recycling collectors like him, but like his recovery Friend says the law has a long way to go.

"Nobody knows about it. It's just a law that nobody knows about," Friend explains. 

He has made it his personal mission to raise awareness of the new law so that friends and colleagues of his can work their daily routes without being afraid of getting hit. While his his efforts to raise awareness of the law have been inspirational for many, Friend says he's no hero. Just a man recovering from an accident who's trying to figure out what to do with his life when the surgeries are finally over.

"I'm going to reach my hand out and see who grabs a hold and see what I can do from there," Friend says. "I was saved for a reason. Now it's time to find the journey that I'm supposed to be on."

Friend's upcoming surgery will likely mean another three months of recovery. After that, he'll need even more physical therapy. When it's all said and done, he hopes to become either a motivational speaker or peer counselor to help people who have experienced accidents like his.

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Pewaukee (WKOW)-- More than a year has passed since sanitation worker Mark Friend's accident on January 5th 2013. He was working on his usual route in Stoughton picking up garbage and recycling when a driver ran into him and pinned him up against his truck. The accident cost him his leg and nearly cost him his life. Medical personnel say Friend is lucky to be alive.

Friend's story was a key motivator for lawmakers who passed a law that would double fines for any traffic violations committed near garbage trucks and other sanitation vehicles. Governor Scott Walker signed the bill into law on July 15th 2013. Since then Friend has worked hard to raise awareness of this new law that protects his friends and colleagues.

"My good friend has taken my old route for me while I recover from the accident. He says people still speed around that corner like nothing happened," Friend says. "People need to know about this law, because it really can save people's lives."

Tonight on 27 News at 6pm, Gordon Severson shows us where Friend is at with his recovery, as he prepares for yet another surgery on his leg.

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