'I've been given a second chance': Moorhead man recovering from snowmobile crash

A quality helmet saved his life.

Moorhead resident Morgan Leiseth walks through an obstacle course as part of his physical therapy.
Ryan Longnecker / WDAY News

FARGO — Morgan Leiseth was critically injured 15 days ago in a snowmobile accident in rural Becker County.

After days on a ventilator and sedation, not knowing if he would survive, the 45-year-old Moorhead resident was discharged Monday, Jan 31.

Just days out of intensive care, Leiseth walks through an obstacle course like he owns it. But the fact Leiseth is up and walking at all is amazing to his family and those working with him at Sanford Health.

"It is pretty incredible," said Morgan's wife, Jerilyn Leiseth.

Jerilyn — who got the call that Morgan had been in a snowmobile crash near Tullaby Lake in Becker County — says she was with her son at a hockey game near Lake of the Woods. A friend drove them in a storm back to Sanford Health in Fargo.


"We didn't quite know what we were going to see, when we got there," Jerilyn said.

"I don't remember much, I do remember going that day," Morgan said.

He was out snowmobiling with friends, when he hit a tree off the trail.

Morgan Leiseth being taken to Sanford Health by helicopter.
Leiseth family submitted photo.

"I am hearing of me laying in the snow, having a buddy lay next to me until the helicopter got there. It was pretty eye opening to hear it," Morgan said.

A quality helmet saved his life, but he was unconscious and unresponsive. A helicopter with paramedics came to try and save him as he was flown to the ER and ICU in Fargo. He was sedated, on a ventilator, in a coma. His life hanging in the balance.

"(It was) minute by minute. Our family was called into a trauma room to see him," Jerilyn said.

Through those first few days, Moorhead parents who play hockey with the Leiseth boys rallied around the family with food, and a GoFundMe site.

Morgan Leiseth in Sanford Health's Intensive Care Unit.
Jerilyn Leiseth submitted photo.

"If someone does get hurt (...) we always want to help out, you just never think you are going to be the guy on the receiving end," Morgan said.


Those families were supporting the kids who weren't sure their dad would come home.

"Like you see your kids flash before your eyes, especially if they don't know if you're going to be there the next day or not," Morgan said.

"We needed to get through the first 24 hours," Jerilyn said. "We knew he had a moderate to severe brain injury."

Just days after the crash, Morgan was out of ICU and in physical therapy.

His discharge day was Monday but there are still days of therapy ahead.

"The fact that he came to us so quickly, and he didn't stay very long with us, he really is a miracle," said Sanford Rehabilitation Physician Assistant, Jenny Marsden.

"We will take it one day at a time," Jerilyn said.

The brain injury takes time to heal, but the fact Morgan will head home so soon after a crash like this?


"I feel like I have been given a second chance, that's for sure," he said.

Kevin Wallevand has been a Reporter at WDAY-TV since 1983. He is a native of Vining, Minnesota in Otter Tail County. His series and documentary work have brought him to Africa, Vietnam, Haiti, Kosovo, South America, Mongolia, Juarez,Mexico and the Middle East. He is an multiple Emmy and national Edward R. Murrow award recipient.

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