Andy Hill of Missoula is the man who a bridge jumper landed on in the Clark Fork River on Sunday, July 21. Hill said this week, that the tubing trip was his very first time floating the river.

"I've lived in Missoula for 22 years, and spent a lot of time on the rivers, but never before on a float tube," Hill, a social worker said. "My wife and I put in on the river and got about 300 feet downstream. and instantly, I felt intense pain, I was completely submerged underwater, all in just a split second. I popped up out of the water, still on my tube, and there was a guy draped across my lap. He rolled off, and in less than a second was apologizing and asking if I was OK. I said, no, I wasn't OK, and I need to get to shore."

"He kept apologizing all the way to shore, but it didn't seem like a very sincere apology, more like an 'I don't want to get in trouble' type apology. He and another guy pulled me off the tube and onto the beach while we waited for the EMT's to arrive."

Hill said the bad news was that several bones in his legs were broken or cracked, but the ligament and tendon damage feared in his knees was not as serious as originally thought.

"On the outside of both of my fibulas, there's kind of a notch or protrusion, and both of those are broken off," Hill said. "I have a crack in my left femur, as well. We originally thought I had some serious ligament and tendon damage to my knees, but it turns out, luckily, that they're all intact. Now, they're all stretched and out of whack and I have some sort of damage to the meniscus in my left knee. I'll have to do physical therapy for a couple of months, but at least I can use crutches to make it to the bathroom. Aside from that, I'm restricted to my wheelchair."

Hill said the accident will help him better relate to people he's trying to help with a new non-profit venture.

"I started a new non-profit called 'Fishabilities', to help people with disabilities get outdoors and fish, as entertainment, but mostly as a therapeutic tool," Hill said from his wheelchair. "Fishing will help them with self-esteem and coordination, you know, both the physical and mental aspects of their lives. Now, as a friend pointed out the other day, I'm in the position of a client. Once I've healed up a little bit and passed the pain issues, I can use this to sort of put myself in their shoes, or on their wheels, and see what it really is like for them. I'm hoping it will improve how I work with them."

Hill didn't go so far as to say the bridge-jumping accident was a blessing, but he's making the most of the learning experience.

"You know, I work with people with disabilities all the time," Hill said. "Everyday, now I say that 'wow, I have a whole new appreciation for what that guy is going through,' and that simple tasks aren't so simple anymore.

Bridge Jumping Victim Andy Hill