Sequim civic leader Schaafsma recovering from tractor rollover
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Sequim Rotarian Tom Schaafsma stands with actor Sean Penn during a Haiti relief effort in which Schaafsma assisted with placing Rotary ShelterBoxes in 2010. Schaafsma was severely injured Friday when a tractor flipped on him.

By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News

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SEQUIM — Well-known North Olympic Peninsula civic leader and humanitarian Tom Schaafsma was breathing on his own Sunday at a Seattle hospital after a tractor rolled over and trapped him two days earlier.

“So far, today has been an encouraging day,” wrote wife Jacque Schaafsma on a family blog Sunday afternoon.

Schaafsma, a semiretired carpenter, is a past Clallam County Community Service Award recipient and Sequim-Dungeness Valley Chamber of Commerce Citizen of the Year who is noted for his volunteer participation in the Rotary ShelterBox program.

The longtime member of the Sequim Sunrise Rotary Club has promoted fundraising across the North Olympic Peninsula for the $1,000 disaster-relief kits that provide temporary housing for victims around the world.

He has traveled to Latin America, the Caribbean, Africa and Asia as part of Rotary relief teams following disasters such as earthquakes and floods.

He met actor Sean Penn during relief efforts in Haiti in 2010.

Closer to home, Schaafsma has helped with construction projects at the Old Dungeness Schoolhouse, the Sequim Food Bank, Sequim Community School and Olympic Theatre Arts.

Her and his wife have hosted six exchange students, and he has volunteered with the Clallam County Juvenile Diversion Board.

Schaafsma, 63, suffered partially collapsed lungs and 10 broken ribs Friday afternoon when a tractor, used in the removal of a tree in woods behind the family's Holleman Way home, flipped over and landed on top of him, family members said.

Because Schaafsma was deprived of oxygen for nearly 10 minutes as he lay under the tractor, doctors and the family have been concerned about brain function.

On Sunday morning, doctors asked him to squeeze his left and right hands and wiggle his toes, to all of which he appropriately responded, Jacque said.

He appears more comfortable than before, she said, and underwent a breathing trial during which the ventilator was turned off to allow him to breathe on his own.

But he still has some ventilator assistance, she said.

“We are still very concerned about his brain health, but overall the family is feeling a bit more optimistic,” she said.

“As always thank you all for your prayers, messages, and support. Please keep them coming.”

Updates on Schaafsma's condition are available at a medical blog

Friends of the family are asked not to call the hospital, Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.

The tractor incident took place in the woods behind the Schaafsma property Friday as he and son Ryan Schaafsma were attempting to fell a tree.

“The tractor on which Tom was sitting on flipped up and fell back on him, pinning his body under the tractor,” Jacque said.

She said Ryan ran to the house to get a truck, used it to pull the tractor off the unconscious Schaafsma, and then preformed cardiopulmonary resuscitation until emergency services arrived.

“They were able to put him on life support and airlift him to Harborview Trauma Center in Seattle,” she said.

“We are seeing a few smiles today in the 'family camp' up here on floor 9.”


Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at

Last modified: October 14. 2012 6:55PM
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