A South Whidbey community member and his family are seeking support in the wake of a tragic accident that left him with several broken bones and a serious head injury.
Rick Newton of Chocolate Flower Farm was fixing a roof on the afternoon of Nov. 11 when the ladder he was using skidded out from underneath him. He fell headfirst about eight feet onto concrete.
Marie Lincoln, Newton’s wife and Chocolate Flower Farm founder, was fortunately nearby and made the call to 911. Emergency personnel acted swiftly and airlifted Newton from Langley to Providence Regional Medical Center in Everett. The flight took approximately a minute and a half.
“That quick response is why he’s alive,” Lincoln said.
Newton spent nearly two weeks in the hospital recovering. Although they haven’t received the final bill yet, Lincoln is preparing for it to be astronomical. To help with costs, Lincoln’s daughter created a GoFundMe account where people can donate. The fundraiser can be accessed by visiting gofund.me/b18a9fc9 or searching “Help Rick Heal From His Accident” on the GoFundMe website.
As of Friday morning, donations to the fundraiser total over $10,000.
Lincoln has been doing her best to keep the public updated on Newton’s progress. With the appearance of the incident in Alert Whidbey 2.0 – a Facebook group dedicated to items on the local police scanner – she received many panicked messages from concerned family members and friends.
The day of the accident, Lincoln packed her dogs and a sleeping bag into the car and boarded the next available ferry for the mainland.
Newton spent four days in the intensive care unit and a little over a week between a private hospital room for pain management and a rehabilitation center for physical and occupational therapy. Although he didn’t require any surgery, he did suffer back, rib and neck fractures along with a traumatic brain injury.
“He keeps saying, ‘Thank you for saving my life,’” Lincoln said. “He knows if someone hadn’t been there, he wouldn’t have made it because of all of the internal bleeding in his head.”
Newton was released from the hospital on Thanksgiving Day into Lincoln’s care. Right away, Lincoln’s daughters assured him that he would never have to fix another roof again – a team of professionals is currently hard at work making the repairs to the nearly 100-year-old farm.
“He’s happy to be home and have home-cooked meals and lots of rest,” Lincoln said. “His dogs are cuddling in the bed with him. He’s got other people putting the roof on.”
But after weathering a traumatic brain injury, the future ahead is uncertain. Some cognitive difficulties may remain.
“Everything takes time with a brain injury. You just kind of have to know this will take a long time,” Lincoln said. “The neurologist told me this is a marathon, not a sprint.”
Lincoln and Newton met nearly six years ago, at the Ivar’s in Mukilteo. Coincidentally, they share the same birthday and were even born in the same place, albeit one year apart. Newton’s accident occurred just three days before their wedding anniversary and shared birthday.
Newton is known around Chocolate Flower Farm for his handiness, whether it’s tractor work, plumbing, wiring or carpentry. Lincoln said he loves living on the farm and Whidbey Island, which he calls “Fantasy Island.” The couple has plans to expand Chocolate Flower Farm into a cozy campground and picnicking destination, a vision which will have to be put on hold for the time being while Newton heals. Chocolate Flower Farm reopened at its current location in 2020.
Lincoln is appreciative of the support she’s received from the community so far, which has included handwritten sentiments from strangers, well wishes on the streets of Langley and an outpouring of orders to Chocolate Flower Farm’s online store.
“We’re just really, really grateful for the fact that he hopefully dodged a bullet and will be on the mend,” she said.