Rural Henning man enjoys time in the lake after 2019 accident
By Chad Koenen
Three years after an ATV accident took both his legs and his left arm, Andy Eckhoff recently checked off another first from his to-do list—getting back into the lake.
Earlier this summer Eckhoff went swimming and even went for a jet ski ride on West Leaf Lake. It was the first time he had been in the water since his accident over Memorial Day weekend in 2019. While doctors had told the rural Henning resident that he could go in the water for quite some time, he said he wasn’t sure whether he wanted to and risk ruining his prosthetics, especially considering he wasn’t planning on swimming long distances anyways.
“I knew I could I just didn’t know if I wanted to do it,” he said.
However, on June 19 Eckhoff joined his sister Jill and nieces in the water on what was a warm summer day.
“These can get wet, you just need to clean them. Basically it’s like you do with your shotgun when waterfowl hunting and your gun gets wet. It felt really good.”Andy Eckhoff about his prosthetics
One of the challenges in walking in the water was the soft bottom of the lake. Since he has prosthetics it was a bit difficult to walk on the sandy bottom for the first time. One of the highlights of the day was when Darren Weber pulled up to Eckhoff and asked him if he wanted a ride on his jet ski.
“I said I want to drive it and he said OK go ahead,” said Eckhoff with a laugh.
Riding the jet ski proved to be pretty easy as everything was controlled with one hand. It was just another example of Eckhoff being able to do everything he could before his accident, just in a different way. He is also back to golfing on a regular basis and is working on a prosthetic that uses suction to keep his prosthetic in place, as opposed to a pin.
In addition to getting back in the water, Eckhoff has a new set of running blades. The spring loaded running blades are made out of carbon fiber and help him run long distances in a much easier way than his conventional prosthetics.
Last summer he was even able to run the 5k at the Henning Festival. Even though he finished the race, Eckhoff said he was a bit disappointed in his final result.
“It was disappointing because the first two miles everything went great,” he said. “All the way there I was just killing it until my prosthetic got wet and started slipping.”
As a result of his prosthetic slipping Eckhoff had to walk across the finish line, but in doing so was able to once again check off another monumental milestone off his list as he proves he can do anything he did before his accident, just in a different way.