Kohler is the coach of a competitive trampoline and tumbling team known as St. Louis Elite, which practices at his newly-renovated children’s activity center in Hazelwood. On December 20, one of his team members, 17-year-old Sara Carney, sustained a life-threatening injury to her right leg while practicing her trampoline routine. She dislocated her femur bone at the knee cap, which caused it to break through the skin and sever the femoral artery, causing a rapid loss of blood. Also, her ligaments and tendons were damaged, and she dislocated her elbow.
After calling 911, Kohler realized he didn’t have much time to wait for the paramedics to arrive. He found a mat strap and used it as a tourniquet by wrapping it around Sara’s leg to help stop the bleeding. According to Hazelwood Fire Chief Dave Radel, “Without Kohler’s quick and decisive actions, it is quite possible that the victim could have bled to death before the arrival of our paramedics.”
Sara’s father, who recommended him for this honor, is grateful to Kohler for his swift and skillful life-saving efforts. “I believe Kohler’s actions provided the precious minutes necessary for the paramedics to arrive and get Sara to the hospital and then into surgery. We will be forever indebted to him and the other coaches for having the courage to act because those actions saved my daughter’s life,” said Tom Carney.
In the days immediately following the accident, Kohler made several trips to the hospital to check on Sara. Although she was heavily sedated at the time, he spent time with the family. “We kept telling him how thankful we were for his actions and he kept telling us how sorry he was that it happened and how helpless he felt not being able to prevent it. We spent a lot of time just giving comfort to each other,” added Carney.
The Carney family has no regrets for Kohler being Sara’s coach. Carney said, “I admire Kohler for his coaching style. Sara has participated in gymnastics for many years, at different gyms with many coaches. He is the best. He has the ability to connect with the gymnasts. His coaching philosophy has always been to use positive motivation. Any parents interested in enrolling their children in tumbling or trampoline classes should consider Kids World Gymnastics.”
Honored Coach Shares A Moment With Gymnast He Saved— Sara Carney (left) stands with her coach and owner of Kids Word Gymnastics Gene Kohler (right) after she watched him receive a “Certificate of Recognition” from the Hazelwood City Council for his swift and skillful life-saving efforts after her trampoline accident.