Phil Radcliffe, known by his “Phil Dirt” truck, suffered critical injuries while sawing lumber with his portable sawmill on Dec. 2. He was airlifted to Harborview Trauma Center, where he received several surgeries and was placed in the Intensive Care Unit.
According to family members, he sustained a deep cut extending from the right knee, “up through the abdomen, stopping just below the sternum, with damage to the small and large intestine being the most critical.”
The critical burn unit at Harborview specializes in massive wounds, and Radcliffe is in the same room his son-in-law, Mike Hunziker, occupied nine years ago with severe burns. Radcliffe’s wife of 45 years, Lynn, has been by his side since the accident. Other family members visit daily.
“What happened is not completely clear,” said Hunziker, adding that Radcliffe didn’t fall on the saw as first thought. The saw jammed in a log and when he tried to remove it, his clothing got caught in the saw, pulling him into it.
Neighbor Rick Coovert was with Radcliffe when the accident occurred, shut the saw down, got Radcliffe free, and called 911, likely saving his life.
Hunziker praised Coovert for his quick response and said the Fire District 16 paramedics were phenomenal. “They were there very quickly, and responded in a very professional way,” he said.
Radcliffe has run a “one-man-show” since 1971 with his Grader Services company — doing grading, site preparation, septic work, backhoe work, and rock walls. “He’s very talented with heavy equipment,” Hunziker said. “He does his own mechanicking.”
Radcliffe is a hero to his seven grandkids. “Grandpa can fix anything,” they say.
Radcliffe’s parents had a cabin on Henderson Bay, and he’s been around the peninsula since he was a boy. Terry Hunziker, Radcliffe’s oldest daughter, lives with her family on the same property as her parents. His younger daughter, Traci Tovey, lives with her family in Gig Harbor.
“Radcliffe is a vital man,” Hunziker said. “He can survive this wound if anyone can.
Radcliffe’s progress is posted daily on a special Website; to leave a note and check medical updates, visit www.caringbridge.com/visit/philradcliffe.