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Colorado man fights for life after rare internal decapitation from dirt bike crash

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KDVR) — A Colorado man is fighting for his life after suffering a rare injury in a dirt bike accident.

On Monday morning, Brandon Causey suited up to ride his dirt bike solo — as he’s done so many times around the paths in Gypsum, Colorado — just hours after dropping off his wife at the airport. His daughter, Ciera Causey, said he was found unconscious on the road shortly after.

“He was taken to Valley View Hospital in Glenwood, and they didn’t have the level of care required for his injuries. So they Flight for Life him [to Grand Junction],” she said. “I thought that I was going to arrive here and he wasn’t going to be here anymore.”

Brandon Causey suffered an atlantooccipital dislocation, also known as internal decapitation, in which his skull was severed from his spinal column. The injury resulted in brain bleeding, and fractured vertebrae in his neck and ribs.

According to the National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine, atlantooccipital dislocation (AOD) is “a rare cervical spine injury and in most cases fatal.”

Brandon Causey’s family said Tuesday that he was undergoing surgery called an occipitocervical fusion to reconnect his skull to his spinal column, and then they will proceed with more imaging and further address his other injuries.

“It’s a miracle he’s alive. His injury is crazy. The people that sustain those kinds of injuries don’t actually make it to this point of getting surgery,” Ciera Causey said. “There is a plate that they use for the fusion for the surgery and they had actually sent it back to their career service because they didn’t have a use for it, because they haven’t performed this surgery in, I don’t know, a decade.”

According to the American Journal of Neuroradiology, children are more susceptible than adults to internal decapitation because of their “increased head to body ratio” and their “inherent instability of the neck.”

Brandon Causey (Courtesy of Ciera Causey)

Help with recovery

Brandon Causey is well-known in Colorado’s Vail Valley community. He’s been a chef at multiple Vail resorts and is now a personal caterer. He is also a ski instructor.

“He’s best friends with I think every single person in the Vail Valley. We’d walk around with him and he knew five to 15 people wherever we go. He’s very affable, very kind, funny, charismatic, a pretty big name in the valley just because of his reach,” his daughter said.

Doctors have told Brandon’s family that the out-of-pocket costs for this kind of emergency are astronomical — nearly $1 million, so a fundraiser has been set up to offset the costs.

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