Roger Meythaler, the 82-year-old man who rolled his camper on Interstate 90 a week ago, has been given a reason to keep his hopes up after the scary crash.

Dave Meythalter, one of his sons who lives north of Seattle, said his father was making the cross-country road trip from Iowa to Spokane, Washington, with his 11-year-old cat.

After the crash, first responders found the cat but couldn’t get Roger Meythaler’s feline friend out of the camper.

“It’s one of those cats that is really skittish,” Dave Meythaler said.

Once the camper was moved to the impound lot, it was several more days before the cat was found again hiding underneath a cushion seat inside. Animal Control was called Friday to try and get the animal out.

“Speaking with my dad after his cat had been found this morning, he was all choked up about how many people have been so kind to him there in Gillette since the accident,” Dave Meythaler wrote in an email Friday afternoon. “It’s been really hard for the family with all of this happening so far away.”

He said his brothers and their families all live in the Des Moines, Iowa, St. Paul, Minnesota, and Spokane and Seattle areas. It’s been tough on the family to have their father dealing with an emergency on an island in Gillette.

Roger Meythaler bought the full-size camper May 29 and was trying to make it to Spokane to attend his granddaughter’s high school graduation.

A few days into the trip, he had tire issues in Rapid City, South Dakota, and because of those issues, he had a late start getting on the road June 1.

Wyoming Highway Patrol Lt. Colt Lenz said that Meythaler didn’t feel tired when he started his trip, but fell asleep at the wheel early Sunday morning, causing him to roll his camper about 20 miles west of Gillette.

Dave Meythaler said a trooper told the family that his father had first drifted into the median and then overcorrected toward the right shoulder, where he hit a guardrail.

He said his dad doesn’t remember speaking with the trooper, but remembers seeing a firefighter’s hammer break out the windshield before he blacked out.

Dave Meythaler thinks this is when his father had his heart attack, forcing him to lose a pulse. That’s when firefighters on scene performed CPR and revived him.

He said that his dad has had heart problems for years and, unfortunately, is looking at a long recovery.

Luckily, Roger Meythaler got some company this week. His sister and her husband, who live near Denver, drove up to Gillette to be with him. Dave said the doctors have suggested his father be moved to a local assisted living center once he can be released from the hospital.

He said his mother and father’s wife died from a chronic illness just over a year ago. Saturday would have been their 61st anniversary.

“He’s been living alone ever since and had big plans to travel the country with that camper visiting distant family and friends,” he wrote.

For now, those travel plans are on hold as his father continues to recover. But when he can travel again, he’ll still have his feline friend for company.

Patrick Filbin is the Gillette News Record's features and city council reporter. He can be reached at pfilbin@gillettenewsrecord.net or 307-682-9306 ext. 204. Follow him on Twitter @PatrickFilbin.

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