rock fall 7

Damage from a rock fall on a PRT car on Feb. 10, 2020. Emergency services cut a large portion off the vehicle to remove the occupants.

Maceon Wheeler sat at the front of the PRT, facing away from Monongahela Boulevard, when the boulder hit.

“I honestly wasn’t sure what happened until they had helped me to exit the PRT,” Wheeler, a freshman engineering student from Huntington, West Virginia, said. “I was sitting there more so focused on the pain and the fact that there was glass everywhere and hoping that everyone was OK. I didn’t even consider that a boulder had hit us until I saw the boulder was on the road.”

Wheeler said he was looking down when it hit. He had earbuds in and had just put a song on his phone. When the boulder made impact, he said it crushed together the sides of the seat he sat in, flinging him forward and then backward.

“I got my glasses knocked off, and my phone broke,” he said. “I couldn’t hear anything because my earbuds were in, and I couldn’t see anything until someone handed me my glasses back.”

“The impact caused me sharp pains, but the shock was enough for my brain to tell me that I might be OK, which the hospital later disagreed with,” he said.

After the collision, Wheeler said he’s trying to take everything day by day.

“It’s a lot to deal with, obviously,” he said.

Wheeler said he had fractures on both sides of his pelvis and in his lower back.

He said the recovery timeline is still uncertain.

“It depends a lot on how I’m looking when I go back in for my check up in a few weeks, because if anything has shifted I am expected to undergo a surgery, or multiple, depending on how bad the shift is,” he said. “I could have shifts in the different parts of the pelvis that are fractured; I could end up with a pelvis that is not completely aligned.”

If nothing is shifting, Wheeler said he’s hoping he will have mostly healed by the end of the semester.

Wheeler plans to finish this semester’s classes.

“Now that I am injured and have to use a walker to assist me, there are more processes that they have to accommodate for, but I’m still planning on going through the rest of the semester,” he said.

Wheeler said he “most likely” would use the PRT again.

“I would keep a closer eye out just because of what occurred,” he said. “Overall, the PRT has been mostly reliable for most students.”

Wheeler said the rock was behind him where he was positioned.

“Had the PRT been a half of second faster, if the rock was rolling in that direction, I could’ve had the rock hit the back of me,” he said. “The boulder could have been making impact directly with my back.”

Wheeler said he wanted everyone to know that he is “alive and well, for the most part.”

“I hope the others in the incident are doing well as well,” he said.

Editor in Chief

Douglas Soule is the editor-in-chief for the Daily Athenaeum. He previously served as assistant news editor at the Daily Athenaeum. He has interned at the Charleston Gazette-Mail, The Globe Post and the Daily Athenaeum. He is a senior at WVU.