The June 6, 2000, Deseret News headline read “Big Tree Falls, Kills 2 in Provo Canyon.” It was a family birthday party at Big Springs Park in the South Fork of Provo Canyon when an 80-foot cottonwood tree suddenly fell over and crushed 56-year-old Mollie Sorensen and her two young granddaughters. Mrs. Sorensen and 6-year-old Mollie died at the scene. Four-year-old Emma was in serious condition with skull, spine, and pelvic injuries. Several other family members were injured, but not as seriously. Investigators had no explanation why the 3-foot diameter tree fell, winds at the time were light. Emma recovered but was left paralyzed from the waist down.
One of the Provo City Firefighters who responded to this tragic accident, Dale Pitts, kept in touch with Emma’s family. A few years later, when Emma was in the third grade, a biologist invited participation in a field trip to the mountains to see a bear that had been tracked with a radio device and then tranquilize. Being paralyzed Emma couldn’t make the 2-mile hike. This is when Dale came up with the idea of a mountain trail wheelchair. Dale and his buddy Todd Loader built a wheelchair with a single large high flotation tire for the mountain trail and Emma got to see the bear with her classmates.
This mountain trail wheelchair worked so well that Emma’s dad asked Dale and Todd if they could create another one to enable Emma to reach the top of Timpanogos Mountain. They created their next version of a mountain trail wheelchair, and with the help of family and friends Emma made it to the top of Timpanogos mountain. Emma was able to live out her dream despite her limitation thanks to the inventive genius of two guys who just wanted to be helpful.
Dale and Todd made a few more copies of their unique off-road wheelchair for people who are paralyzed and want to enjoy mountain and desert trails. Dale’s accountant friend, Adam Beesely realized there might be a large enough need among the handicapped population to create a business to manufacture and market a wheelchair for sandy and rocky trails that otherwise would be impossible for the handicapped. They have continued to refine their wheelchair concept and they are now developing an electric motor-powered assist model. They call their wheelchair Extreme Motus, and for more information visit their website www.extrememotus.com.
The photos show Dale, Todd, and Adam standing behind the blue wheelchair that took Emma up Timpanogos and the current production version of the off-road or off-the pavement Extreme Motus wheelchair. Today Emma Sorensen is an excited and thriving 23-year-old young lady with an amazing world of experiences to talk about. This is an amazing story of a couple of guys determined to help make a young girl’s life exciting and interesting after a tragic accident.