Oconomowoc man thanks UW Health nurses who saved him after 'car crash from hell'

OCONOMOWOC, Wis. (CBS 58) -- June 12, 2020 changed Ross Kopfer's life forever.

"There was our lives before that day, and there's our lives since," Kopfer said.

Kopfer was driving his then 11-year-old son to a baseball game when a semi-truck crashed into another on the interstate outside of Madison.

The accident sparked a chain reaction involving at least eight cars. Four people were killed and many more were injured. 

Kopfer and his son were in one of those cars.

"With our injuries, we were not able to escape by ourselves," Kopfer said. "Luckily, there were two good Samaritans that jumped into our burning truck and pulled us out, risking their own lives."

Surviving the crash was just the beginning for Kopfer.

"I had just about every internal organ damaged in some way," Kopfer said.

He spent 63 days in the intensive care unit (ICU) at UW Health in Madison. 

"If you look at statistics, I am a miracle," Kopfer said.

Kopfer doesn't remember some of the people who were by his bedside when his family couldn't be, but after nearly two years, he got to meet them again. 

This time, he'll never forget them.

"I owe my life to them, and for me to be able to thank them and see them again, I can't put into words what it meant to me," Kopfer said.

Jennifer Milz was one of the nurses who treated Kopfer in the ICU. 

"This is as rewarding as you can get," Milz said. "As far as I am concerned, this is why I do this."

Kopfer has a new appreciation for life and the people who save lives.

"If there's good that can come out of it, it's to validate that what they do makes a difference every single day," Kopfer said. 

National Nurses Week is May 6 to May 12. 

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