Varsity Extra

One of Idaho’s most decorated high school coaches needs your help after sawmill accident

Salmon River’s Kyle Brady hoists then-assistant coach Charlie Shepherd after the Savages won the 2007 1A Division II football title at Bronco Stadium.
Salmon River’s Kyle Brady hoists then-assistant coach Charlie Shepherd after the Savages won the 2007 1A Division II football title at Bronco Stadium. Idaho Statesman file

The architect of one of Idaho’s most dominant high school athletic programs remains in Boise’s Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center a week after an accident at the sawmill he and his family own.

Salmon River’s Charlie Shepherd Sr. said he was sharpening a blade at the mill when it accidentally turned on and caught the back of his leg. The injury required a life flight to Saint Alphonsus and surgery, but the blade missed any bones, tendons or major arteries.

“It’s an absolute miracle,” said Shepherd, who’s led Salmon River to a combined seven football and boys basketball state titles. “It completely tore all the meat and fat and nonessential stuff off of the leg and left the bone, the tendons and the arteries.

“By all rights, I should have died. And next, they should have had to cut my leg off. And next, I shouldn’t be able to walk again. But I’m doing it all.”

Shepherd said he’s up and walking three times a day around the hospital and, if all goes well, he could return to Riggins as soon as Monday to finish his outpatient care from McCall.

Shepherd’s family has set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for his medical expenses. As of 2 p.m. Friday, it had raised $7,155 of its $20,000 goal.

The 50-year-old Shepherd said the outpouring of support from Riggins and the Treasure Valley sports community has been overwhelming.

“It’s been from every aspect of the community. I’ve had preachers I don’t even know show up and do prayers,” Shepherd joked. “It’s been phenomenal. Lots and lots of people from Riggins have made the drive down here to see me.”

Shepherd’s fingerprints are all over the Salmon River athletic program. He’s led the Salmon River football team to an 81-22 record and five state titles in 10 years. His five state titles are tied for fourth-most by a coach in the Idaho High School Activities Association era.

He also coached the Salmon River boys basketball team for 14 years before stepping down this season, winning back-to-back 1A Division II state titles in 2013 and ’14.

And Shepherd remains the school’s track coach. He said his goal is to return and coach the track team this spring.

“Hopefully I’ll have to be out running around the track and getting in shape with the kids,” he said.

Michael Lycklama: 208-377-6424, @MichaelLycklama

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