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Alumnus loses arms in accident, lives to tell story

Jason Koger, 2002 Murray State graduate from Utica, Ky., lost his arms as the result of a tragic all terrain vehicle accident and lives to tell his story. His handicap has not altered his lifestyle. II Jason Koger
Jason Koger, 2002 Murray State graduate from Utica, Ky., lost his arms as the result of a tragic all terrain vehicle accident and lives to tell his story. His handicap has not altered his lifestyle. || Courtesy of Jason Koger

Growing up on the family farm in Utica, Ky., afternoon all terrain vehicle rides were a normal occurrence. However, fallen power lines were not.

On March 1, 2008, Jason Koger, agriculture engineering major and 2002 graduate of Murray State, drove over a live power line behind his home. Approximately 7,200 volts of electricity coursed through Koger’s body.

His cousin, who was riding with him, called for help. The afternoon ended with an ambulance ride to the local hospital where Koger was put into a medically-induced coma and transported to the Vanderbilt University Medical Hospital Burn Center.

After three days, Koger awoke to the new reality of life without either of his hands.

The accident had burned his arms so badly they had to be amputated just below the elbow. However, after six surgeries, 12 days after his accident Koger was able to return back to his home.

For a while, Koger adjusted to life without his hands. His first day home, he taught himself how to drive and dress himself all over again.

“I was determined to do everything I could before (the accident),” Koger said.

Prior to the accident, Koger worked with his father in their family construction business. In his free time, he enjoyed hunting, spending time with family and working on cars.

After the accident, he vowed not to let the obstacle get in the way of his life. In fact, just a month after returning home from the hospital, Koger went hunting and brought home his first turkey of the season.

He said he was determined to have a positive attitude much like he had prior to his accident. He said he wanted to get his life back on track.

“None of my hobbies have changed at all,” Koger said.

After almost two months, Koger was fitted for his first prosthetic for his left arm. Two months later, he was fitted for the right prosthetic.

Koger relies on two kinds of prosthesis. The first is a body-powered arm with hooks on the end for hunting and outdoor work. The second is known as iLimb ultra hands, which gives a more lifelike appearance and movement.

Koger is the first person in the world to use two iLimb ultra hands for prosthetics.

According to Koger, his life has changed unexpectedly because of the publicity.

“I hate when people stare at me instead of talking to me,” he said. “I’m comfortable talking about the accident and sharing my story with everyone. In fact, my brother-in-law got me a shirt as a joke that said ‘Look Ma No Hands.’”

Koger said he started meeting many celebrities because they admired his positive attitude and willingness to try everything he could do with his hands before the accident.

He has been on CNN, Jana Waller’s hunting show “Skull Bound TV” and appeared in “Hawaii 5-0.”

Koger also speaks with other amputees and volunteers at Vanderbilt University Medical Hospital.

“I just want to inspire people to never give up,” Koger said. “I think everyone goes through struggles but there is always an easy or lazy way out, but either way you have to move on. It is so much easier (to heal) with a strong community and friends.”

Now, five years after the accident, Koger lives a normal and inspiring life raising his family of three children with his wife Jenny in his farm home near Owensboro, Ky.

He plans to visit a student in Murray who recently lost her arm in a car accident to encourage and teach her how to adapt to the new lifestyle. In addition, he will speak to many agriculture classes about agricultural safety.

Within the next month, Koger will also be receiving new top-of-the-line prosthesis to replace his iLimb ultra hands. However, the exact name of the prosthesis have not been released yet.

Overall, he still attributes his success to his positive attitude and determination.

Said Koger: “I have always pushed myself to the limits. I like to try things that other people might not try to do, and I often succeed.”

Story by Hunter Harrell, Staff writer.

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    Wanda HarrellApr 9, 2013 at 3:57 am

    Very interesting story Hunter. Also, very well done. Keep up the good work.
    A proud Grandma.