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- To: telecine at sun.alegria.com
- Subject: Richard Terpilowski
- From: orton at earthlink.net (Mike Orton)
- Date: Wed, 16 Apr 1997 22:39:49 -0800
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First of all, let me apologize to the members of the group for being late
with up-to-date news about Richard's condition.
Thanks indeed to Dennis Morton for filling in the details, while I've been
offline. During the last week, I have been trying to piece together what
actually happened, so that some sort of objective assessment can be made
about the possibilities of Richard's recovery.
On the evening of Sunday, April 6th, Richard was out horseback riding in
Mission Hills, California, with another accomplished rider. While riding at
a hard gallop, his stirrup broke. The other rider, David, was riding
behind, but due to the wind noise, could not hear Richard's shouting for
assistance. Richard was able to maintain his balance for perhaps a hundred
yards before falling off to the right side.
David's horse cleared Richard by jumping over him, and since he had had a
few tumbles before, David assumed Richard would just pick himself up and
dust himself down, so he went after the loose horse.
After a period of time, believed to be no more than five minutes at the
outside, David returned with the other horse, to find Richard still lying
motionless where he had fallen, against a metal chain-link fence post.
Richard did not appear to be breathing, but may have taken some gasping
breaths, possibly "agonal" breathing; and while David was watching, he
visibly turned blue (cyanosis), due to lack of oxygen. David began shouting
at Richard, and believes that he started to make labored breathing sounds.
By this time, the shouting and yelling had attracted the attention of the
people at the stables nearby and somehow a 911 call was placed (I am
unclear on when and how this happened). At some stage before the EMT unit
arrived, David is positive that Richard was breathing unaided.
The EMT unit took 15 minutes to arrive at the scene. The EMT incident
report, and admission assessment make chilling reading. The EMT report
states that Richard was not breathing upon their arrival, but he was
intubated, and began breathing on his own. Upon admission, Richard had the
most profound level of coma on the Glasgow coma scale, a combination of
body and eye responses.
He was admitted to the Holy Cross Hospital Critical Care Unit with "Severe
Head Injury" and "Anoxia" with possible involvement with the brain stem.
The hospital performed a series of tests, X-rays and CT scans to the brain
and spinal cord, and determined that Richard did not have a basal skull
fracture, as had been feared, although he did have severe cerebral edema
(swelling), which was putting potentially damaging pressure on his brain.
On Monday morning, I heard about the situation almost first thing at NAB,
and immediately called my wife who rushed over to the hospital with Lori
Chapman. Paul Chapman's wife. They could see that Richard's condition at
that time was dangerously critical, and their call back caused me to cut
short NAB and fly back on Monday evening. I arrived at the hospital at
about 11 pm. Within 5 minutes, I was joined by Richard's long-time friend
Clive Christopher, colorist at SVC in London, who had heard the news at
NAB, and had jumped in a rental car and driven to Los Angeles the same
Clive and I were able to get an initial, but bleak, assessment of Richard's
condition from the CCU staff, and also found out that 525 had immediately
offered to fly Richard's family out to LA.
On Tuesday, Clive and I met his parents, Joe and Sabina, and sister Anna
off the plane at LAX, and followed them to the hospital. There was some
question about whether Joe would be able to make the trip, as he is 83
years old and has had a previous heart and circulatory problem. As it turns
out, no health insurance carrier would cover this condition for the trip
out here, so he is here without health insurance for those areas.
When they got to the hospital, Richard's family soon learned that he was in
a severe coma state, was on a ventilator, and was completely unresponsive,
including having fixed pupil size. At that time, the CCU staff and doctors
were still trying to stabilize his condition, and his death was a
That evening, Richard's brother Ian was met at the airport by David and
myself, and after a brief evaluation, we drove with him over to Holy Cross,
where he was able to see Richard and talk with the CCU nursing staff. From
the hospital charts, it seemed that the odds were stacked against him.
In the week since last Tuesday, Richard's family have been shuttling to and
from the hospital in a rental car, since Richard's own car is not insured
for drivers without a California license. During that time, the area of
most concern has been the Intracranial Pressure (ICP), which is a measure
of the pressure on Richard's brain due to the edema. On Friday, it rose to
a dangerously high level, and Richard suffered a seizure, which apparently
is not unusual in severe head injury cases.
On Monday, Richard underwent a tracheotomy, and had a G-tube placed for
feeding. My wife and I went to see him on Tuesday evening, and he was
breathing on his own, with assistance from the ventilator. According to his
duty nurse, there is still no purposeful movement, but his pupils had been
responding to light for a couple of days now, and his eyelids had briefly
flickered open. We were relieved to see that his ICP was down to quite a
low level, and he was starting to stir, albeit at a very basic level.
We may just be overly hopeful, but for the first time, both of us had the
strangest feeling that Richard is back with us. I'm not able to pin down
why this is the case, and it may just be that more of Richard's face has
been uncovered following the trach. operation. We were met at the hospital
by Richard's colleague at 525, Albert Soto, and Albert's fiancee, Darleen,
who has been monitoring Richard's progress closely since the accident. They
also confirmed the sense that something is "going on" with Richard's level
of consciousness, although there is no scientific method of measuring such
a thing. We have come away from the hospital more hopeful for a recovery
than at any time so far.
I went back to visit him again this evening. Richard's left eyelid has
started to flicker noticeably, and although he appears to be restless,
probably from the pain, he does seem to have some border-of-consciousness
response to our voices. His close friends have never really given up hope,
and we are now talking in terms of *when* he recovers, rather than *if*.
The prognosis is still dauntingly unsure at this stage. Richard could yet
remain in this restless coma state for months or years, or he could wake up
tomorrow, and ask for a glass of beer. We just do not know. There are some
complications setting in, which will have to be worked through: he has
pneumonia, and some of his extremities show signs of distress from resting
on the bed for so long.
His brother Ian, and sister Anna have been reviewing his medical charts
from Holy Cross, and are satisfied that he has received excellent trauma
care. There is now the question of where to place him for longer term
therapy and rehabilitation. Richard's own body recovery will set the agenda
and timetable for this second stage, but we are hopeful he will be off the
critical list by the end of this week.
Richard's family are profoundly grateful for the huge outpouring of
sympathy and support they have received. I was and am now again moved to
tears by the obvious suffering they have endured; and now I have gotten to
know them a little, the tragedy has been brought into sharp focus. Such a
warm, courteous and kind family deserve all the assistance we in this
industry can provide. There have been many people asking how they can help,
and I have asked Richard's colleagues at 525 to set up a trust account for
his family, so that they will be able to remain in the US for as long as it
takes for Richard's rehabilitation.
I am appealing to all members of the TIG to make a donation to this fund to
help Richard's family. They have dropped everything to rush to a strange
country for a terrible emergency, and although they would never dream of
asking for it, they need our help. I thank Rob for fostering a community
here which I know will rise to occasion and support a friend in need.
Please send any donations to:
Richard Terpilowski Trust Fund
c/o Union Bank of California, Los Angeles Headquarters
445 South Figueroa Street
Los Angeles, CA 90071
Richard Terpilowski Trust Fund
c/o Jim Campbell
525 Post Production
6424 Santa Monica Boulevard
Hollywood, CA 90038
Telephone (213) 525-1234
Or to myself:
Richard Terpilowski Trust Fund
c/o Mike Orton
Editel, Los Angeles
729 North Highland Ave.
Hollywood, CA 90038
Telephone (213) 931-1821
Please mark your envelope clearly, and write checks to: "Richard
Terpilowski Trust Fund".
As Richard's friend and long-time co-worker for almost 15 years, I would
like to publicly thank the President, Steve Hendricks; management and staff
at 525 Post in Hollywood for immediately flying out his family, and for
their continuing and tangible assistance to Sabina, Joe, Anna and Ian
I know many of Richard's friends in the Post community have wanted to visit
him, but are unable because the hospital CCU limits visiting to immediate
family and close friends. Please accept my apologies on his behalf: the
limitations are in place because of the stress it would impose on Richard.
These constraints will be lifted once he is out of immediate danger, and
moved to a skilled nursing care facility. Please hold that thought: he will
need plenty of support in the coming months.
His brother Ian, as spokesman for the family, also sends his heartfelt
thanks, on behalf of Richard, for all the support and messages of sympathy
they have received from both the U.S. and overseas. It has been a
tremendous comfort to the family members to know much Richard is loved and
how highly he is regarded on both sides of the Atlantic.
Finally, keep Richard and his family in your thoughts and prayers. I've
started praying again; they need all the help they can get. Thanks for
reading, and thanks in advance for your support of the fund set up to
assist Richard's mother and father.
God bless us all
| "I do not distinguish by the eye, but by the mind, |
| which is the proper judge of the man." |
| Seneca. 8 B.C.- 65 A.D. |
thanks to Seamus O'Kane of VTR for supporting the
Telecine Internet Group in 1997
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