The call Mahamud Abdisamad got from his friend Wali Aar last month was urgent. Aar's car battery had died and he needed a jump start.
He grabbed his jumper cables and headed out the door, not knowing that the night's course of events would upend both their lives.
"I heard a loud noise," Abdisamad, 34, recalled from that night. "I looked down to see my legs were gone."
The driver of a third vehicle suspected to be under the influence of drugs slammed into the rear of Aar's SUV, pushing the two cars together with Abdisamad in between.
The crash severed Abdisamad's legs, and Aar's left leg was so badly damaged it had to be amputated.
After fleeing a war-torn country, living in refugee camps and starting new lives in the United States, the two Bloomington men now face a new ordeal — the daunting prospect of extensive rehabilitation, huge medical bills and no income to support their families seven weeks after the gruesome Oct. 12 crash. The men, long accustomed to their own independence, have now been embraced by a community that, in little over a month, raised nearly $8,700. While grateful, both say that the damage to their bodies is only part of their grief, and their attorneys say recouping costs through insurance or the courts may be difficult.
"It's extremely sad," says Fathi Gelle, Abdisamad's sister. "They never needed to ask for help, so this new reality affects them badly."
Both Bloomington men are married and are the sole breadwinners for their families. Abdisamad has five children, Aar has seven.
"I used to be somebody who worked for my kids, for my wife," Aar, 35, said at a Bloomington rehab center where he is recovering. "Now I'm confused. I'm sure they are worried to death."
The two men were born in Somalia, lived in refugee camps in Kenya and came with family members to the United States as teenagers. They worked at a turkey processing facility in Faribault where they met and later at a glass factory in Owatonna. Abdisamad started his own courier company a year ago.
The night of the crash, Aar phoned Abdisamad from Interstate 35W at the 90th St. exit where his Ford Expedition SUV had stalled out. They eventually made it to Penn Avenue, where Aar was connecting the jumper cables and the crash occurred.
Abdisamad knew immediately that his legs were gone, adding "I was trying to save my body."
Wedged between the two vehicles, he held on to both hoods and pushed himself off to the side.
"I heard this female voice screaming, saying 'It's my fault. I killed them,' " he said.
He could also hear his friend, Aar, screaming in pain.
Driver appeared impaired
The driver, Mary E. Kridner, 24, of Bloomington, told police she was using marijuana, according to an affidavit filed seeking permission to search her car.
She was arrested on probable cause of criminal vehicular operation but was released and has yet to be charged. Police said she had "pinpoint pupils" and bloodshot eyes, the court document said. Police drew blood from her to test for impairment. Drug paraphernalia inside her car was in plain view, the affidavit said.
Bloomington Deputy Police Chief Mike Hartley said his department is waiting for toxicology results before determining whether and what charges might be filed against Kridner by the Hennepin County attorney's office. Kridner declined to comment through her father, who cited her attorney's advice.
Abdisamad has had two major surgeries at Hennepin County Medical Center (HCMC), where he was hospitalized for three weeks before returning home.
Aar was unconscious at HCMC for three days. He was examined by several doctors, including specialists from the Mayo Clinic, who concluded that his leg had to be amputated. He remained in the hospital for 28 days.
Aar's attorney, Jeffrey Jones, said Kridner's car is under her father's insurance, which is minimal. It would pay $50,000 each to Abdisamad and Aar, Jones said.
That, plus the insurance each friend had, will hardly begin to cover medical expenses. According to Steve Terry, Abdisamad's attorney, his preliminary hospital bill for the first six days was $120,000, which does not include all costs. No-fault insurance will cover some, but not enough. A lawsuit may be out of the picture as well.
"The initial indication is that they don't have enough money to make it worth getting a judgment," Jones said.
In the meantime, a Go Fund Me page was created to raise funds for both men at www.gofundme.com/mohamud-wardi-abdisamad.
Faced with the difficulties that lie ahead, Abdisamad said he was sad about his situation, but not angry.
"We are Muslim," he explained. "We believe things happen because of God's will."
Because of a minor infection, Aar is still living in a rehab facility where he is learning how to exercise, walk and use crutches and a wheelchair.
On a recent Friday, he wiggled in his wheelchair, scratching the stump of his left leg. He says he is waiting for his limb to heal completely to be fitted with a prosthetic. He has already looked at a few of them.
"I feel like a newborn," Aar said quietly. "My son is eight months old, I thought I would be teaching him how to walk. Now they are teaching me."
randy.furst@startribune. com 612-673-4224 @randyfurst