Well-known Central Oregon trail builder Kent Howes was recovering Monday from serious injuries suffered after being hit by an icicle weighing several hundred pounds that fell from his roof.

Howes, 65, broke his back and upper arm in the accident, and to heal, he’ll have to avoid exertion for months.

But Howes, 65, is confident he’ll be back outside this year.

“The prognosis is good,” he said.

Howes missed Bend’s big late-winter snowstorm earlier this month while traveling in Puerto Rico.

He returned to find his house caked with snow and ice.

“The house was fine, but I wanted to address those icicles before it started leaking and causing water damage,” Howes said.

So Saturday, Howes attempted to pull a ladder out from under one of his awnings, but several rungs were stuck fast to the snow.

“My big mistake was thinking the ladder was movable,” he said.

He wrenched the ladder, and it spun in a way Howes didn’t anticipate. A half-second later, he was on the ground, and right behind him was a chunk of ice weighing about 500 pounds — 1 foot wide at the base and 3 feet long, he estimated. The brunt of it hit his head and shoulder.

He was eventually able to wriggle out from under the ice and find his daughter and her family on the other side of his house. They called 911.

“It was excruciatingly painful,” Howes said.

Doctors would discover the bone between the shoulder and elbow in Howes’ dominant arm — his left — was “shattered,” and the T6 vertebrae in his spine was crushed. He has a bump on his head from the falling ice, but he avoided a concussion.

Howes, originally from Minnesota, is widely known in Bend. He moved to the area in 1992, which was around the time the Central Oregon Trail Alliance was getting off the ground. He would go on to lead the organization as president and spin his early volunteer work into a full-time job building trails and placing signs for a long list of Oregon clients.

His business, Treadwerks, has forged trails for private developments like Eagle Crest and Tetherow and public parks, such as Smith Rock and Bend’s Rockridge Community Park.

“He’s touched a lot of trails in Central Oregon,” said Bruce Schroeder, chairman of the COTA board.

Howes is also an experienced mountain biker and skier.

A GoFundMe page to help with Howes’ medical bills has raised about a quarter of the $5,000 goal.

One of Howes’ friends helped him write thank-yous Monday to the many people who’ve sent encouraging messages and donated — from COTA volunteers to members of the Deschutes Land Trust to fellow mountain bikers and trail stewards.

“I’m just overwhelmed with all the support,” he said.

— Reporter: 541-383-0325, gandrews@bendbulletin.com

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