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HomeNewsQuadriplegic remembered as avid deer hunter, outdoorsman

Quadriplegic remembered as avid deer hunter, outdoorsman

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David Pollie 1David Pollie’s favorite place in the world was in the woods, and being a quadriplegic since the age of 15 did not stop him from hunting whitetail deer.

The Grand Rapids man who overcame incredible odds to get back into the woods died unexpectedly last week. He was 32.

David, who raised funds for a special track chair to help his pursuit of whitetail deer, went into cardiac arrest at his home June 30 and never recovered.

“He’d not been right for a couple months,” said David’s brother, Jason. “He had a bad bladder infection. He was very prone to them.”

Jason, who served as his caregiver for 17 years, was getting him ready for a doctor appointment when he went into arrest.

“We finally talked him into it, he didn’t want to go (to the doctor), but said he probably should,” Jason said. “A lot of time when I’d roll him over it would rattle things up in his lungs, so I asked him if he was ready to go. And he said, ‘Yeah, let’s go.’

“Then, that was that.”

Members of the Pollie family gathered Wednesday to talk about the hard-charging man David had become.

“He was always the child that wanted to be outside, a go-getter,” said David’s mother, Julie. “He was always on the go.”

A tragic accident

David was 15 years old when his mother took the call that changed their lives forever.

While riding bikes with friend Kirt Gaylord at Ken-O-Sha Park, David hit a portion of washed-out sidewalk and crashed into Plaster Creek. He fell 6 feet and landed on his neck.

David Pollie 2When they pulled him from the creek, his lungs were nearly full of water. His spinal cord and his C5 and C6 vertebrae were crushed.

“That’s the worst feeling as a mother,” Julie said. “We should have lost him then with how badly he was hurt. It was very devastating, it was like it took the life out of me.”

Gaylord went for help after Pollie had his accident, then got on a bus to check on his friend at the hospital.

“I don’t know what to say,” his best friend Gaylord said of David’s death. “It’s hard to describe how I feel right now. I don’t know.”

After more than five months recovering from his injuries, David began adjusting to his new life, paralyzed from the chest down.

Like he did after David’s accident, through the years, Gaylord would continually check in on David, especially when health issues arose.

“Kirt would drop everything to be with him,” said Lisa, David’s sister. “He never stopped being his friend.”

Gaylord, who met David after moving in down the road from him, struggled to talk while recalling their friendship.

“We rode the bus together and we got pretty tight from there on,” Gaylord said. “He was my best friend. You know how when you’re grown up and you have that one person? That’s who he was to me.

“I miss talking to him, man.”

An outdoors priority

As David grew into a man, he strove to be more mobile outdoors.

In February 2015, David created a Go Fund Me page to help raise money to purchase an Action Trackchair, which would help him reach deeper into the woods to hunt and out on the ice to fish.

David shared his story with MLive readers, and donations poured in.

One man sent the family a check for $1,000, others gave in amounts from $20 to $100. The West Central Michigan Quality Deer Management Association presented him with a check for $1,000 at their annual banquet.

The online outdoors community in Michigan supported David’s efforts as well, with many donating and offering encouraging posts and messages to him through hunting Facebook groups.

An anonymous couple from northern Michigan used their income tax return to pay off the final few thousand dollars of the $12,000 total.

David was ecstatic after receiving his chair in late April 2015.

“It’s been one of the best things that’s happened to me in a long time,” David said at the time. “It feels like God is with me. That chair can take me places I haven’t been in years.”

That fall, David bagged a 9-point buck with his crossbow. After helping track it, he was able to drag the deer from the woods with his chair.

“I used to have to sit out there with a walkie-talkie, asking ‘Find anything yet?'” David said of the experience in late October 2015. “I could barely even feel it back there dragging it out.”

A life of care

Jason found his way in the world helping his brother live a daily life.

Catheterizations, clothes changes, doctor appointments, hunting preparation – the older brother helped with all of it.

“There’s one gentleman in his life that took damn good care of him, and that’s that man right there,” David’s father, Matt, said of Jason. “For 17 and a half years by his side thick and thin.

“They’d fight and argue and you’d separate them then it was, ‘Where’s my brother?’ That man did everything for him.”

Jason looked through tears, trying to find words to express his loss.

“I’ve always tried to help him do anything,” Jason said. “His hunting, that’s what he loved.

“I just went up to my dad’s (Wednesday, nearly a week after David’s death) and that was my first time going in the woods (without David).”

David Pollie 3

Jason and David were working on food plots to help bring in more deer. They’d just tilled up a large area and were preparing for the next step.

“That was pretty weird. I just wanted to see where we left off. It’s ready to be seeded, ready to go, but he’s not there.”

Jason’s days feel empty without his brother and all that went into caring for him.

“I don’t know what I’m going to do anymore. It’s all I know.”

The Pollie family is planning a celebration of David’s life which will take place on July 16th, 2016 at Rogue River Park, 6300 Belshire Avenue Ne, Belmont MI 49306 from 1-4 p.m.

By Cory Olsen


  1. i really dont know how to put into words my dep empathy i flt and feel reading this ….Jason ….especially for you you were an extension of your brother his ability to have a life was thru you and his dignity and his reason for being as he was yours as well. I am also a caregiver for my daughter who, 13 yeras ago at the age of 18 just graduated from high school the previous year and was in the process of moving out and starting her life was hit by a drunk driver he rear ended her at a stop sign so hard it turned her 4 door honda accord into a 2 door with the back licence plate ending up betweent he drivers and passengers seats …..she had to be cut out and airlifted to hospital where it was discovered she had a severed spinal cord at the C8T1 level …..she would never walk again and may be on a breathing machine for life (which we managed to overcome in the following few months of hell of ICU. she had some internal injuries as well a lacerated spleen and liver and a brain bleed as well her whole rib cage was crushed except for one single rib. That first night in the trauma ward as my little girl struggled for every breath and fought to live i fell to my knees and begged God to please just let me keep her i didnt care in what condition i would deal with whatever he seen fit for her ….and she lived but it hasnt been an easy life there has been more tme spent in hospitals than at home. I started taking over her personal care the second day in ICU ….because i knew that i would care for her for the rest of my life…….i was so afraid i would do something wrong so thats why i had to start right awy while i was still somewhat numb from the shock before the daunting fear of what lay ahead had a chance to set in and become clear. And i have taken very good care of her …she rebelled when she got her settlement though and went off doing her own thing for a few years got her own place and did some serious 21 year old partying and such lol andf had other caregivers but we are together again she got pretty sick and run down and was not doing well and so i took over her care again. Our relationship is rather symbiotic and i am in the process of trying to make her a little more independant again as she had become bedridden and very ill just before i moved back in with her so we are finally done with hospitals now for a bit i think. We got a new place and looking for and adapted suite where she can do for herself more ( there is very little available here in Edmonton but there is a very special love and bond that is even more than mother/daughter bonds and that is of the caregiver …..i truly dont know how i could ever deal with losing her . You are an angel Jason and my heart breaks for you hon as it does for your whole family know that i understand your deep loss ok? Wishing you peace with the uptmost love and respect . <3

    Sara's Mom

  2. Hello,
    I’m also a quadriplegic so I know exactly how hard David’s life could be. Obviously I do not know your family but I can tell you that all of you are very special people. And Jason, you gave your brother only a life that most quads could dream of. Helping him do the things he loves gave him reason for getting up in the morning. Being in our type of situation there is nothing more important than having a loving and supportive family. That is exactly what you all are. But I’m very sorry for your loss. God bless you guys

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