York officer ‘doing real well’ after boat accident

jmcfadden@heraldonline.comNovember 28, 2012 

— A day after a 3,500 pound fishing boat fell on him, York Police Officer Lee McClellan was able to nod his head, raise his eyebrows and squeeze a hand.

His father, Dale McClellan, called the turnaround amazing.

“He’s doing real well,” Dale McClellan said outside of Carolinas Medical Center Wednesday.

Around 4:15 p.m. Tuesday, McClellan, 37, was working with a friend to remove wheel bearings on a trailer with a boat attached, Dale McClellan said. The trailer was set on cinder blocks.

Somehow, the cinder blocks shattered and the boat came down, pinning McClellan underneath for several minutes.

But he wasn’t alone.

McClellan’s friend, Dustin Allmon, managed to slip a jack under the boat and raised it a little off McClellan to relieve the pressure.

“Had Dustin not been there, Lee would’ve died ... it was phenomenal,” Dale McClellan said. “The Lord was with him all the way.”

He was rushed to CMC and admitted to the intensive care unit.

McClellan has seven broken ribs on his right side, bruised ribs on his left side and slight damage to his lung. Doctors suspect he may also have suffered damage to his liver, Dale McClellan said.

The grim diagnosis aside, Dale McClellan said his son is “responding” and all his internal bleeding has stopped.

“He’s come a long way,” said Dale McClellan, who after receiving word of the accident followed an ambulance to Charlotte.

Dale McClellan described his son as a “man of faith” and said he reassured him that “he was a fighter; that Christ was fighting along with him.”

McClellan, a lance corporal, has been with the York Police Department for three months in the patrol division after a three-year stint with the Rock Hill Police Department, where he worked in the detective division.

Lee McClellan’s wife, Mary Beth, has been on “an emotional roller coaster,” Dale McClellan said. Their children, two boys and one girl, understand their father’s been in a serious accident but they didn’t know Wednesday the extent of his injuries.

Since the accident, the family’s seen an outpouring of support from friends, family members, church members and fellow police officers.

When York Police Capt. Brian Trail received word of the accident, he said he was shocked and “saddened.” Then, he joined numerous people in the waiting room.

“I was commenting to someone that you can tell the character of person when you go into that situation,” Trail said.

Trail, along with the department’s chaplain, training officer and dispatch supervisor, went back to the Charlotte hospital Wednesday morning. Trail said he held McClellan’s hand and the officer squeezed it.

“I was very, very happy,” he said after saying morale in the department had been somber since the accident. “The officers are feeling much better about his prognosis.”

McClellan, off-duty at the time of the accident, was scheduled to start his shift at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Trail said.

“He’s one of those guys you want to be around,” said Joey Deese, associate pastor of Rock Hill’s Oakdale Baptist Church, where McClellan and his family are members.

“I’ve sat with a lot of families through trauma,” said Deese, adding he’s never seen a comparable amount of support.

Months ago, a tree fell on Deese’s house. Deese posted about it on Facebook. The next day, McClellan showed up at the house with a crew ready to pick up the tree and help repair the damage.

An avid outdoorsman, McClellan spearheads an outreach program targeting local men with a passion for hunting and the outdoors, Deese said.

McClellan also spent time in the Army’s Airborne Division. When he announced his plans to “jump out of a perfectly good airplane,” his father jokingly told him he was crazy.

McClellan’s response: “Aw man, dad, you need to try it.”

Jonathan McFadden 803-329-4082

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