New Paris man recovering after being crushed by tree

New Paris, Ind. A 54-year-old New Paris man is fighting to regain the use of his legs after he was crushed by a falling tree in a tragic accident last weekend.

A life-long Elkhart County resident, a local business owner, family man and former Goshen High School basketball player, doctors say Rich Borkholder is lucky to be alive.

Borkholder was cutting down trees for firewood last Saturday when one falling tree took a strange turn, crushing him and damaging his spinal cord.

He was airlifted to Memorial Hospital where he has been recovering for the last week.

"We were just so worried for dad's life at that point," recalled Jason Borkholder, Rich's son. "After surgery, the doctor came out and he told us the surgery went well but dad has about a 1 percent chance of ever walking again."

But Borkholder is surprising doctors by regaining more and more feeling each day.

"The next day he was in ICU and he began feeling some sensations in his legs," he said. "Doctors said 'We don't know how this is even happening but we are going to keep praying right along with you.'"

Rich Borkholder has a big presence in his community, starting a local contracting business about 20 years ago with his partner.

"My dad, he helps so many people," said another one of Rich's sons, Chris Webster, who remembers his dad digging out friends and neighbors after the big snow storm earlier this month. "He's helped us and we just want to be here for him now so we can give it back to him."

His family has set up a website,, to help raise money for his care, and the response has already been great.

Viewers interested in helping out can donate at any credit union center to the Richard Borkholder Benefit Fund or go online to donate or purchase a "Team Rich" t-shirt.

"We love you dad we're behind you 110 percent," said Jason Borkholder, "And we are Team Rich!"

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