ESCANABA, Mich. — “On October 20th, I got a call a little after 4:30 in the afternoon that Peter was ran over by a car,” says Butch Frank, Peter’s father, recalling a harrowing afternoon in 2015.
Prior to the accident, Peter Frank was a unicycling enthusiast and a typical active young man. That day, Peter and his friends were playing in a leaf-pile they had brought to the edge of the curb. After playing awhile, Peter’s friends retired temporarily and went into the house. Alone in yard, while he wait, he thought to hide in the pile, and when his friends rejoined the fun, “He’d jump out of the leaves. Boom!” to playfully scare them, says Butch Frank.
In the meantime, while Peter was submerged in the clustered fallen foliage of the late autumn afternoon, to drivers along the road, he was invisible. In an unfortunate sequence of happenstance, at the same time, another young man, who was driving in a car down that same road, thought it would be fun to hit the pile of leaves.
“He ran through the leaf pile, and ran Peter over,” says Butch Frank.
Peter was rushed to St. Francis Hospital. When his parents arrived, EMTs and doctors were transferring him to the helicopter for emergency medical evacuation to UP Health System – Marquette. He cried out in pain, a sound his parents would never forget. “Hearing him cry out was the greatest sound I ever heard because I knew he was still alive,” says Butch Frank.
Peter had a broken back, broken femur, a punctured lung, broken ribs, a broken scapula, a fractured tailbone, and a concussion. His liver and spleen were damaged. He had tire marks where the car’s wheels spun over his torso, and peeled off his clothing.
“We were told the first week he might not come out of it,” says Butch Frank.
Once at UPHS, his parents would not leave his bedside.
“We threw the cushions from the chairs on the floor, and just slept on there that night,” says Ellen Frank, Peter’s mother. “I didn’t sleep a wink. I don’t think [Butch] did either. We slept on the floor, and didn’t even care. The next day, a room opened at the Beacon House. We took it. The staff said right away, ‘You can stay as long as you want.’”
Beacon House’s Hospitality Rooms became a home away from home to the Frank family for a month. The Franks say it was relief and a blessing to them. They were determined their son would survive, and showed off Peter’s unicycling videos to Beacon House staff to build up their faith that he would pull through, and once again ride his unicycle. Butch and Ellen Frank knew for him to do so, he needed continual around-the-clock love and support.
After a few days, they created a routine where one parent was always holding his hand, and the Hospitality Rooms nearby allowed the other to grab a quick cup of coffee, shower, and a brief nap. They needed to keep up their strength to see him through his ordeal. A whole week went by before Peter’s doctors were finally able to tell his family, with confidence, he would survive.
“I can’t even tell you what a relief that was to me, and just a burden lifted,” says Ellen.
“We know, first hand, that when you have someone in that serious of condition in the hospital, you want to be as close as you can be to that person,” says Butch Frank. “It really was a blessing to be that close, not 15 blocks away.”
“When UPHS – Marquette moves locations, Beacon House has plans to eliminate the 15 blocks in between their current operations and the new hospital by building a state-of-the-art facility right on the campus of UPHS,” says Beacon House Public Relations Manager, Andrew Lorinser. “First, we need the community’s help. We have a great plan, we’re determined, and we can do it, but we have a lot of money to raise. Families like the Franks depend on us, and they depend on the generosity of the entire Upper Peninsula.”
Peter Frank’s mother says, “I remember my mom telling me, ‘Are you anxious to get home?’ And, I know it sounds really weird because in a way yes, but in a way no, because all of the nurses and doctors were taking care of my son. I remember telling my mom, ‘No, I feel like this is my home.’ It’s the truth, I did.”
Peter, Butch, and Ellen are adamant no blame or fault be cast on the driver. They have no ill feelings toward the boy in the car, and the incident lead to no significant legal ramifications. It was an accident. Butch and Ellen Frank kept the driver in their prayers and forgave him for what happened.
Peter Frank made miraculous strides towards recovery, is reportedly doing well, and unicycling nearly everyday. One year after the incident, he played golf at U.P. Celebrity Golf Classic, and Steve Mariucci called him one of the most remarkable and resilient people he had ever met.