Caught Up with Pat McCarthy

Interview by Liam Gallagher

Photo by Liam Gallagher

Pat went through a lot last winter. He got in a car wreck in the fall and nearly lost his life. His friend Michael Dean Peterson, AKA Mikey P, was killed in the wreck. Here's what Pat had to say about the wreck, losing a friend and the recovery process.

When was the accident?

The accident happened in the fall, in October, just one night with my buddy Mikey P, and Tarek Husevold and Fred Gaudette we were just coming home from another night out on the town.

Mikey P died in that accident right?

Yeah Mikey passed away and me and Tarek had a bunch of injuries. We all ended up spending a bunch of time in the hospital. I was in critical condition for like 4 days. I broke five ribs on my left side and I broke my sternum bone which kind of connects everything, so it took a while to get back on my feet, because everything like sneezing and breathing and coughing and all those things were ridiculously painful. It was pretty crazy.

To loose a friend like that is really hard. I definitely thought about him a lot this winter when I was out there and tried to hit the jump a couple extra times for Mikey P and just try and think about him as much as possible when I was traveling around. It's important to remember your fallen soldiers. And it just opens your eyes to the fact that anything can happen to anyone, sometimes you can think that these kind of accidents and tragedies only happen to certain people, but this brought it home to me that you have to really think about what you're doing and make intelligent decisions.

Didn't the doctors say that you were centimeters away from dying?

Yeah, where my sternum broke was where really close to my aeortic valve and you can't be messing with that 'cuz your entire blood stream pumps through it. Yeah it was a tough scenario and a really crazy way to start a winter out, wondering if you'll ever be able to shake what that does to you, cause it's just the craziest experience to go through, to not only have all those injuries but also to lose a friend. He was just a really positive inspirational person who loved snowboarding so much. It just sucks that he had to go. So now I always try to find some time to make some turns for him along the way.

I heard that some of Mikey's friend took his ashes up to Mt. Baker to spread.

Yeah his girlfriend and some of the guys from the accident took his ashes up to the arm and up to the top of hemis and they all dropped in and then stopped and spread his ashes along the way on runs he used to do. (Pause) The whole scenario, you know, although it's tough to go through it was and is such a spiritual experience because sometimes I find myself thinking I'm pretty much lucky to be alive, let alone snowboarding. It's really pretty amazing to still be shredding and seeing all these beautiful places. If anything the whole thing has really made me step back and look at how lucky I am to be doing what I'm doing.

How was the physical recovery for you?

Well basically October was a lot of sitting around. I couldn't get up on my own I was just laying in bed. I was on heavy medication. There was nothing I could really do. My sternum was jacked. I was pretty much bed ridden. I was only getting a couple hours of sleep a night because of all the pain. But then it started to heal up a little bit and eventually I started to feel stronger. I just started doing whatever I could to be moving around, just trying to stay super active. The whole time I was intending to get back out there and do my video part and shoot photos and put in a full-season in like four months. And I knew the quickest way for me to achieve that would be to get back on my board and just start riding again. You can just build your body up so quick by riding. So, as soon as my it felt like body was ready I started riding. It was kind of against my doctors orders, it was a rash decision, but I just started to go out and do long hikes and ride super low impact stuff. So I'd just ride the resort with my friends, keep it low impact and build my confidence and strength back up.

Was it hard to get back into it mentally, did you find yourself hesitating at all?

No, actually, it was really weird. The one thing I knew was that if I hesitated at all I'd probably just increase my chances of getting hurt so my take on it was just go out and commit to whatever I was gonna do. And once I started to take a few bails it was good 'cuz I realized I was still plenty durable. And as the season went on I just kept feeling better.

So, you never thought you might not be able to snowboard last winter?

No, you know, I don't know I just thought that'd be the absolutely wrong thing to think. Even when I was totally laid up in bed in October and I could hardly move at all, I just thought to myself, okay in six or seven weeks you'll be able to do whatever it takes to make your body able to shred. So I was just as proactive as possible, whether it was hiking or running or riding my bike, so that I got strong enough to shred. And actually it didn't take too long to get back in the mix.

That's got to be pretty empowering.

Yeah it was crazy to be able to get back out and work like normal. I just took every opportunity I could to snowboard and tried to make the most.

And now that I think about it, there was actually a trip up to Whistler, it was actually a sneaky trip 'cuz I wasn't even supposed to be riding for like another week and a half. But Shaun McKay and Louie Fountain were going out to Seagrams in Whistler and I just went along to get out. I helped them build the jump and get it ready, but didn't really intend to do anything. And then I was like "I think I'm just gonna hit it." And that was the first time I got any air that was substantial and I tried a front seven and came around and just landed. And that was the instant crusher of all those questions I had in my head. That was the moment. Shaun and Louie were just sceaming, 'cuz they didn't expect me to hit it. And then after I rode away I was just sitting down there and looking over Seagrams lake and there was this beautiful sunset and I thought about Mikey P for a minute and the accident and it was just this crazy moment. It was empowering. It was like weights off my shoulders and that's kind of when I knew the season could turn out okay. It was pretty rad.

And the moral of the story is?

To take it easy and be careful. You don't want to go through that experience. Make smart decisions and enjoy your life, 'cuz it's fragile, and sometimes it can be more fragile than you think.

For another interview with Pat click here or to see him shred Whistler click here