By Matt Montgomery
When the 1964 Chevrolet Impala fell off its 10-inch blocks, trapping former Piedmont Mayor George Fina under it, Fina, a confirmed and diligent Italian Catholic, said these words out loud, “My God, I am sorry for my sins with all my heart. In choosing to do wrong and failing to do good, I have sinned against you whom I should love above all things. I firmly intend, with your help, to do penance, to sin no more, and to avoid whatever leads me to sin. Our Savior Jesus Christ suffered and died for us. In His name, my God, have mercy. Amen.”
Fina said the Act of Contrition out loud when the car fell on him, because he thought that moment was going to be his last moment alive. But, thanks to fast response times from the Piedmont fire department and EMSA responders, Fina is alive and recovering from his injuries. He is still rehabbing at Mercy Hospital and recovering from this traumatic event, but he was able to take his torso brace off recently.
When the Impala, which weighs about 3,500 pounds, fell on Fina, it crushed eight of his ribs and fractured a vertebra. He spent five days in the trauma ward at OU Medical Center, then subsequently went to Mercy Hospital for rehabbing. Fina spent seven days at Mercy.
He was installing a new transmission in the Impala, when the car suddenly rolled off the 10-inch blocks holding the car off the ground and trapped Fina underneath it.
The doctors at Mercy told Fina he had accomplished his physical therapy, his blood count was up, so they sent him home to “convalesce.” During his time at the hospital, doctors also found an aneurysm on Fina’s aorta, which is the main artery in the human body. In November, Fina will go through a battery of tests to see what the next step is. In December 2011, he had open heart surgery after suffering a heart attack. Doctors have since lowered Fina’s blood pressure so he can live with this aortic aneurysm.
He returned to his orthopedic doctor Aug. 27, who told him his vertebra fracture in his back was healing nicely. He had been wearing a torso brace since the accident.
That brace is now off and the 76-year-old Piedmont legend is back to doing what he loves; working on classic cars, serving on various boards of directors and spending
time with his family.
“I feel pretty good,” Fina said. “I have some aches and pains but just like the trauma doctor said … ‘I want to see a 76-year-old man that had a car fall on him and he’s still alive.’ My wife said, ‘He’s right there.’”
Fina said he was most worried that the wires were going to come loose from his double-bypass heart surgery.
He said rehabbing and doing light weight lifting has kept his health good.
For all of the dangerous things Fina said he’s done throughout his life, such as drag racing, which Fina was named world champion of many years ago, drag boat racing at high speeds, being an Oklahoma City firefighter and fighting fires in the walls of structures, he was more worried about and prayed when the Impala fell on him.
“I’ve been in fires when the walls were caving in and I thought I wasn’t going to get out, and I didn’t pray,” he said.
In hindsight, Fina said he was actually underneath the Impala a few days before it fell on him.
He had reached for and grabbed a hold of the fender and noticed that the car rolled easily.
“I could have reached in and pulled the emergency brake,” he said of his accident. “I could have done a lot of things. I figured out a lot of things in the hospital when it was too late.”
He would have been medi-flighted to the hospital, but it was raining the day of his accident.
Fina said he really appreciated the work Piedmont fire fighters did to rescue him.
He also said Piedmont police officer Tony Jobe told Barbara Fina, he’d watched their home for them the night he went to the hospital.
Editor’s note: Look for next week’s edition of the Piedmont-Surrey Gazette for a full story of Fina’s history as Piedmont’s mayor and other endeavors throughout Fina’s lifetime, including his love for cars.