His arm is in a sling, but still, Chris Coffman is counting his blessings.
Two of them - his 18-month-old daughter Serenity Faith and 17-year-old son Andrew - were sitting with him in a booth at Scottie's Restaurant Thursday afternoon, sharing cheese fries.
Coffman is an independent contractor who delivers newspapers for The Inter-Mountain. Usually, one or both of his children accompany him on his paper route. However, he feels lucky and grateful that they weren't there Tuesday night, when a tree crashed into the passenger side of his vehicle as he was traveling through Bowden.
The Inter-Mountain photo by Katie Kuba
Chris Coffman, an independent contractor who delivers newspapers for The Inter-Mountain, poses Thursday with his 18-month-old daughter, Serenity Faith, and 17-year-old son, Andrew, near Scottie’s Restaurant in Elkins.
Because Winter Storm Saturn struck central West Virginia Tuesday evening, The Inter-Mountain made the decision to move its deadlines up, hoping to spare paper carriers from the brunt of the storm.
Coffman said he picked up his papers early and began his deliveries.
"I was actually going through Bowden, running my route, when I stopped because a tree fell right in front of me," he recalled.
A moment later, a second tree smashed into the passenger side of Coffman's vehicle, driving him over a 50-foot embankment, he said.
Coffman was injured and went to the hospital for treatment, where he found out he'd strained several tendons in his shoulder. He'd have to sport a sling for the next several days, but that didn't stop Coffman - the dedicated carrier completed his route Wednesday morning.
He brushed aside his injury Thursday at Scottie's, saying that what matters most is that his children weren't with him.
"They usually come with me, and thank goodness neither one of them was with me," Coffman said.
His son had been sitting shotgun earlier Tuesday evening when Coffman went to The Inter-Mountain's Elkins office to pick up the newspapers. When Andrew fell ill, his father decided to drop him off at home before embarking on his approximately 80-mile route.
"(The tree) probably would have killed him," Coffman said.
"It would have taken off my head," Andrew chimed in.
"I said, I got lucky," Coffman continued. "I tore my rotator cuff, but after everything that could have possibly happened, that's all I got out of it. I was blessed."
Contact Katie Kuba by email at email@example.com.