Al Pettitt in Grizzly Meadows

Nuggets from the Past

Kay GoodJanuary 12, 2012 

No doubt many of you remember when double amputee Al Pettitt had an accident in the Grizzly Meadows area in the 1990s. This is his story as he told it in his autobiography and as part of the interview done by the Coarsegold Historical Society Aug. 14, 2000. The full interview and remainder of the story can be found in "As We Were Told, Vol. II."

"My daughter Bitty and I used to go up to Grizzly Meadow a lot. I was alone and about a mile from there when I got stuck. I had gone down to Mammoth Pool Resort and had a hamburger. DeeDee, Vernon Black's daughter, was working there, and I wanted to stop and talk to her. So when I came by one area, I said, 'Well, I'm going to go in there and see if there is any wood,' -- any tree that went down. There's a lot of dead oaks, and you can't cut 'em if they're standing, but if they fall over you can cut 'em.

So I drove up there and I saw these two trees. I should have driven to the trees, but I decided to turn around where I was, although the road was pretty narrow. I hit a sugar pine with my front wheel, and it stopped me. I gave it the gun a little bit, and I dug in about a couple of inches; I was never high center. I was just stuck.

I stepped on the gas again and went down a little bit more. I was stuck for three and a half days. (note: Mr. Pettitt is a double amputee and couldn't walk out).

I listened to the radio and heard the news reports about me. It was Sunday at 2 p.m. when I got stuck, and on Thursday morning they said they were going to discontinue the search. I thought I'd better get the heck out of here.

You can't crawl if you have no legs because you gotta have knees to push yourself. But I thought I could roll. So about 7 p.m. I had a picker-upper (a tool to retrieve items) in the pickup, and I cleaned the area where I was going to get out (of the truck), and I loaded myself and dropped about three inches.

Then I had to clean the way out, all the way. I was not on a main road at all. It was a wood-cutting road Dyk Fink had opened up so I could get in there, and It's just two little tracks covered with twigs and pine cones.

So I rolled and, you know, like a top -- one end is bigger than the other, so the top of your body goes faster than the lower end. So, I had to adjust every time -- it took me two-and-a-half hours to go about 125 yards.

I got about 30 feet from the main road and these guys came driving in, and when I hollered they stopped. I was right in the road. It turned out to be Buster Nickelman's son Paul and Bobby Beale. They picked me up and put me in the pickup."

Mr. Pettitt passed away April 13, 2003. "As We Were Told, Vols. I & II" can be purchased at the Coarsegold Historic Museum, Fresno Flats Museum, Oakhurst Giftworks and Dorsey's Hallmark.

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