Tug Leberman is an avid outdoorsman and packer who simultaneously claims to “not get along with technology”, while in the same sentence professing his endorsement for SPOT products. “I’ve had one for a good six years and always use it to check in with my family while off the grid or camping,” said Leberman.
The good natured, Montana resident is positive and outgoing despite the fact that the local hospital refers to him as their “Success Story of the Year”, essentially a title they reserve only for those who have survived severe life-threatening situations.
Tug was helping a friend in Melrose, Montana a community about 35 miles from Butte. One day while working to move cattle, their count came up short. Traveling by mule, Tug and his group located the missing cattle which had made their way to an extremely steep ravine. In addition to the steepness of the ravine, the area was littered with what Tug describes as “dining room table sized rocks, long and rectangular, with sharp edges”.
When the mule he was riding got spooked, Tug tried to reign him in, losing his stirrup and balance in the process. With gravity taking over, Tug fell off his mule into the ravine hitting the corner of one of the large boulders and bouncing off of others before landing at the base. Unable to move, but still conscious, Tug activated the S.O.S. function of his SPOT device. Within fifteen minutes helicopter rescue was on location to extract the severely injured rancher.
After transport to the hospital it was found that Tug broke 11 out of his 12 ribs on his left side, had multiple vertebrae fractures, a shattered left shoulder, collapsed lung, torn diaphragm, spleen injuries and needed 13 stitches to his forehead. He sustained injuries so severe he required transport to a second hospital where he would have two eight-hour long surgeries to rebuild his rib plate and shoulder. In total, Tug was in the ICU for six days and in the hospital for nearly three weeks.
Tug tells us that while it wasn’t his first trip to the ER, he very much earned that Success Story of the Year title from his doctors and surgeons. Tug is happy to share his story and reinforce why a product like SPOT is so important. “The more people I can tell, the better.”