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Monday, Oct 10 2011 10:04 PM

Texas woman seriously injured in weekend Volkslauf

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    Mandy Trept

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BY RACHEL COOK Californian staff writer rcook@bakersfield.com

A Texas woman remains in intensive care at a Bakersfield hospital after falling from an obstacle at a fundraising race Saturday.

Mandy Trept, 32, dislocated two vertebrae and suffered damage to her spine when she fell from a obstacle during Bakersfield Volkslauf mud run, according to her father, Ted Trept. He said Mandy Trept had traveled to California from Arlington, Texas, to vacation with her mother and compete in the race with friends from IronOnline, an Internet weight training forum.

"All I know is that somehow or other I'm assuming she lost her grip and fell," said Trept, who planned to fly from Texas to California Tuesday morning with another daughter, Amy Trept.

"It's taking a while to sink in," Amy Trept said by phone from Texas. "It's kind of unbelievable. It's tragic."

Sheena Crider, registration coordinator for Volkslauf, said the obstacle Mandy Trept fell from is a large ladder made of planks of wood attached to telephone poles called the "stairway to heaven." The obstacle is at the end of the running portion of the race. Crider said Mandy Trept was competing in the 5K race and the course was still teeming with runners when the accident occurred.

Two nurses participating in the race immediately attended to Mandy Trept after she fell, Crider said. She was taken to Kern Medical Center by helicopter.

Mandy Trept's family members said she has undergone two surgeries since the accident. She can raise her right arm a bit, but cannot move her left arm or her legs.

"The surgeons feel that she will be paralyzed," Ted Trept said.

Mandy Trept's father said surgeons may perform a third operation on Tuesday to stabilize her spine. Doctors will place her in a halo if they cannot do the surgery.

"She's really really out of it so we don't really know how things go from here," Ted Trept said.

Though Mandy Trept is being kept heavily sedated, her father said she was awake long enough to learn that Bakersfield residents are planning a race to raise money for her.

"She can't speak because of the tube (in her throat) but she started to cry," Ted Trept said. "Mandy is the kind of person that would simply be overwhelmed by all of the support and all of the good feelings from the Bakersfield community."

Mandy Trept's father and sister described her as a big-hearted person who loves nature and photography. While Mandy Trept worked for a company coordinating printing requests, her father said she wanted to go back to school to study sustainability.

Her passion for weight lifting started about five years ago. Her father said he's watched her leg press more than 500 pounds.

Touched by news of the accident, other racers are organizing a fundraiser dubbed "Miles for Mandy." Bakersfield resident Amy Villicano said she is amazed how fast interest in the race has grown since she started a Facebook group for it Sunday night. Details of the event are pending while the group collects money to rent a site and complete permits.

Ted Trept said the accident was "terrible," but the swell of support from the community is inspiring.

"It's refreshing. It gives you faith in your fellow man again," he said.

As for the future of Volkslauf, Crider said organizers were traumatized by the accident and will discuss it, but that no other major injuries have occurred on the stairway to heaven.

"We've never in our 15-year history had someone (evacuated by helicopter) from our event," Crider said. "It's just a sad, sad accident."

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