Josh Turner is a fighter.
After undergoing seven surgeries and awaiting two more, he’s about halfway through his roughly 2 1/2-month stay at Spartanburg Medical Center. Once he’s discharged, he’ll go to a rehabilitation facility until he can walk on his own.
But the hardest part of his journey is over.
On Nov. 6, Turner crashed on Cannons Campground Road after he swerved to avoid a deer and went into a ravine.
For the next two days, he struggled to survive and get back to the roadside for help.
His first memory after the crash is of waking up on his back and looking over to see his mangled Toyota Tacoma.
He passed out after that, and when he came to, he realized he wasn’t dreaming.
“I laid there and just hollered, trying to get someone to hear me every time I heard a car go by,” he said.
He hadn’t made much progress by nightfall, and after shivering through the night, he was determined to get out.
“I told myself, ‘I made it through the night,’ and I said, ‘The heck with this,’ ” he said.
But just moving his body was an ordeal. He made several unsuccessful attempts to brace his shattered legs and feet without passing out so he could make it to the road about 20 feet away.
He found his .22-caliber gun and tried shooting a nearby transformer, hoping to knock out power or otherwise draw attention to his location. Combined with the pain, enduring the cold night was a challenge.
Finally, Turner managed to roll his body to a place where he could gather up leaves to stuff into his clothing to support his body on the ground.
He found some sticks and tied them around one of his legs with the cord from his GPS device to create a makeshift splint. From there, he was able to crawl to a guardrail without losing consciousness.
He eventually flagged down a passing motorist, who called 911 to get him to a hospital.
“The pain was ridiculous. It was just a heck of a ride. I wouldn’t wish this on nobody,” Turner said.
The 27-year-old said he has a new outlook on life as he continues along the long road to recovery.
On a recent Thursday, he sat up to eat lunch inside his room on the recovery floor of the hospital’s surgery wing. The lights were dim as “The Bourne Identity” played on the television.
Painful operations and his long stay in the hospital haven’t been easy, he said.
“The hospital alone has been hell. Every day is something painful,” he said.
But, he said, he’s happy to be alive.
The Spartanburg native would like to open a restaurant one day. He’s currently working at John’s Café and Catering off Bennett Dairy Road, and is a student at the Culinary Institute of the Carolinas at Greenville Technical College.
“I’ve got too much I want to do. I wasn’t ready to die,” he said.
His mother, Missy Ridings, said she was told if he’d gone any longer without being found, he would have ended up losing a leg because of the wounds and infections that had developed near his knees.
Ridings said she rushed to the hospital when she found out about her son’s wreck. She remembers being brought into a room with a chaplain to await a doctor and fearing the worst.
“It wasn’t long before the doctor came in, but it seemed like forever,” she said. “I was worried he was gone.”
Seeing her son alive brought some relief, but Ridings said it was tough to think of him stuck in a ravine and unable to get help.
“The worst part for me was knowing he was stranded,” she said.
Family and friends have showered Turner with support, sending cards, calling and texting him.
Co-worker Sawyer Vassey said he hasn’t been by the crash site and doesn’t want to see it. He was shocked when he heard the news.
“I’m just glad he’s here now,” he said. “And I thought he was tough before.”
Turner now is focusing on walking again and being out of a hospital gown.
“I would give anything just to get back on my feet,” he said. “I just want to leave this behind me.”
“He has a long way to go, but we’ll get there,” Ridings said.