After The Fall
by Brittany Ghiroli – CrossFit Games
On July 4, 2014, Matt Chan and his wife Cherie set out for a quick bike ride.
It was a short drive from their Boulder, Colorado, home to the East Magnolia Trails, and the Chans—passionate riders long before they were big-name CrossFit athletes—were hoping to check out a new route before Matt’s parents came over for a barbecue later that day.
As has become tradition, Matt raced ahead. A four-time top-10 CrossFit Games finisher—including a second-place finish behind Rich Froning in 2012—Matt slowed down at intersections and waited for Cherie, who was unusually stubborn about not wanting to bike that morning. It was raining, it was a holiday, and Cherie—every bit as adventurous as her husband—had one of those unexplainable feelings about the ride.
Three miles in, Matt’s bike stopped and the Chans’ lives began to play out in slow motion.
With a pool of blood in his groin, Cherie tried unsuccessfully to use her search-and-rescue background to help carry him out. Matt tried to stand several times, thinking he could shake off the freakish fall that caused his bike chain to get caught and his handlebars to be forced into the ground and pressed into his right hip. It was not happening.
He lay down and put his hand on the huge lump by his hip, noting the one-and-a-half liters of blood that had started to accumulate. Matt, who retired from a career as a firefighter several years ago to become a full-time CrossFit athlete, was an EMT basic. He could recognize emergencies. This was a field emergency.
Matt partially severed his femoral artery, one of the largest arteries, which provides blood to the lower portion of the body. One inch down and it would have been totally severed, meaning he would have bled out in a matter of minutes. Seven years of training as a high-level CrossFit athlete, putting in hours of Olympic lifting and metabolic-conditioning work, and it was a log on relatively flat terrain that caused a life-threatening injury to one of CrossFit’s most consistent competitors.