Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Kentucky amputee appears on "Hawaii Five-0"

From News Channel 5 in Nashville:

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A Kentucky man who lost both his arms below the elbow when his ATV collided with a powerline just spent two weeks in paradise shooting an episode of Hawaii Five-0.

High powerlines had fallen after a snow storm and Jason Koger (pictured) hit a downed wire five years ago.

"I just ran into it on my ATV and took 7,200 volts," said Koger.

He spent three days in a coma and awoke to find doctors had to amputate both arms below the elbow.

"I knew God would give me the strength to get through it," said Koger, a 30-year-old married father of three.

Instead of feeling self-pity, Koger took it all as a challenge. Initially he was fitted with prosthetic hooks for hands and he could still play with his children. Just a few months after the accident he even went skydiving.

Then, this past month his life took a turn you usually only hear about in Hollywood: Koger landed the role of a lifetime. A casting agent contacted him on behalf of Hawaii Five-0 producers. They were looking for a bi-lateral amputee, white male, Koger's age.

Koger was hired for a two week shoot in Hawaii with the cast and crew of the show.

"I got to go knowing that I'm a double for Peter Weller," said Koger.

Weller is the actor best known for his role in the RoboCop movies.  Weller's character in the Hawaii Five-0 episode had lost his hands.  The producers wanted to Koger's prosthetics to double for Weller's hands.
"Basically my hands. His face," said Koger.

Shooting the episode was great fun, but it didn't end there for Koger.  The cast and crew noticed that he used an older pair of robotic hands.  New ones can cost as much as $170,000.  So the Hawaii Five-0 crew asked the makers -- Advanced Arm Dynamics and Touch Bionics -- if they'd consider donating a pair to Koger.

"The actors told them, 'He just did a show ten million people are going to watch.  And they didn't miss a beat. They said absolutely,'" said Koger. 

Koger went to Dallas to be fitted for the new bionic hands and then returned to Nashville where his family met him at the airport.

Koger's new hands can do most everything a real human hand can do.  What he likes best is that he can now more easily hold the hands of his children during walks.

"It means a lot to me just to be able to look down and see that," said Koger. " You still can't feel. But I love holding my kids hands."

Koger feels that's quite a gift, and it was all possible thanks to his surprise chance to work on a Hawaii Five-0 episode which aired Monday night on NewsChannel 5.

Koger lives in Owensboro, Kentucky and works to help and inspire other amputee patients.

He has a website at jasonkoger.com.