MOUNT VERNON, Mo. -- They didn't think he'd live. Doctors considered pulling the plug. Then he was told his right eye would be blind and he'd never use his right hand again. But Mark Lindquist, 51, has a spirit to thrive, thanks to being found in time.
On Thursday morning, there was a reunion here that no one thought would happen. Three months ago, no one thought Lindquist would be seen, let alone joke again.
"I'd like to take all the nurses (home) with me," Lindquist joked to his guests at the Missouri Rehabilitation Center.
On May 22, Mark was working at a guest home in Joplin on Iowa at 22nd. As the tornado approached, Lindquist had three residents who had Down syndrome hide under a mattress. After the twister came through, the boys were found by the home and appeared to be fine. Rescuers found Lindqust impaled, two homes down in a pile of rubble.
"We heard moaning from behind a building," Brian Hamlet said.
Hamlet and his cousin-in-law found Lindquist.
"When we found him, we didn't think he'd be alive," said Hamlet.
"(Mark had) a zombie look on him," said Staff Sgt. Michael Byers of the Missouri National Guard. "Mark had no blood in him. The hospital said he had zero blood pressure."
Lindquist was so swollen from his injuries that he was the last John Doe identified at the hospital. It was precious time when his family was thinking the worst.
"They told (my family) they'd find my head somewhere and then my legs somewhere," Lindquist said.
Lindquist lost his shoulder blade and upper humorous bone along with a few teeth but not his sense of humor.
"And now all you want is the (St. Louis) Cardinals to win," a reporter asked.
"That'd be a bigger miracle than me," Lindquist quickly replied.
Lindquist was in a coma for roughly two months.
"My kid's voice changed," he said.
He also learned the truth of what happened on May 22 to the special needs residents for whom he was caring.
"All three of them perished," Lindquist said. "They were so scared."
Despite appearing okay after the tornado, the residents died as a result of internal bleeding. The news continues to hit Lindquist hard.
In his room in Mount Vernon he has so much: a loving family and a friend who came all the way from Montana. Reunited after 30 years shortly before the tornado, Carolyn has sat with Lindquist almost every day since the tornado.
And then there are the two heroes who found Lindquist.
"They're now my family," Lindquist said. "What do you say to someone who saved your life?"
Lindquist has been learning to walk again. His motivation is to be with his son, Creed, and Carolyn. Lindquist also wants to see his mother, 89, who has not been able to visit him because of health reasons.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun