He was at the very top of the ladder when it gave way.
"I can replay it in my mind in slow motion," Krager said.
He landed on his feet, but the 9-foot fall onto concrete ruptured a disc in his spine.
"I knew it felt funky, something was weird, but I didn't know until the next morning" how bad the injury was, he said.
After more than a week of excruciating pain a neurosurgeon plucked out the ruptured part of the disc. It was simply amazing, Krager said, to go from being wracked with pain to being completely pain-free after the surgery.
Krager, the longtime executive director of Samaritan House, a homeless shelter in
A couple of Krager's friends from
It's been somewhat awkward, he said, to personally be on the receiving end of the giving spectrum. His life's work has been focused on helping others at the most basic level of providing emergency shelter.
"I give a lot of presentations and I always say when you go through a crisis it's human nature to fall back on your friends and family," Krager said. "Here I am now, learning from my own words."
A couple of weeks before the ladder mishap, Krager had sent out a letter to shelter supporters, alerting them the shelter had just lost
The federal funding was cut abruptly, with no warning and winter shelter needs bearing down. Samaritan House has raised about
"I've trimmed personnel hours, but this is a big demand," Krager said about the upcoming winter season. "This is the time when we should be fearlessly biting off more than we can chew. I'm asking staff to be as efficient as possible."
Samaritan House serves approximately 1,350 local homeless people every year, sheltering around 78 people every night. Programs at Samaritan House have excellent outcomes, Krager said, with 86 percent of the people served at the facility no longer homeless when they move on from the shelter, compared to 72 percent as a national standard for other homeless programs.
Krager said he was reluctant at first to have friends and family raising money for his medical bills at a time when the shelter needs are so great.
"I didn't want to distract from people giving to Samaritan House," he said.
He's come to realize, though, what he's known all along, that the generosity of
"My heart is so full," he said.
Krager has been able to work part time at the shelter administrative offices while he's convalescing, but is able to work from home, too. On Monday he drove his vehicle for the first time since the accident.
He plans to ease back into his music gigs, too. He plays bass with the Mike Murray Duo and rock band The Left Ready. It's been a personal challenge to slow his schedule down a bit, he readily admits.
"I live my life full bore," he said.
Contemplating the past year, Krager said a traffic ticket he got a few months ago for failure to yield just might be a metaphor for his life.
"Failure to yield," he mused. "Maybe it was a sign to slow down, don't be in such a rush."
How you can help
Donations to help cover the cost of
Donations to help Samaritan House recover financially from a
(c)2016 the Daily Inter Lake (Kalispell, Mont.)
Visit the Daily Inter Lake (Kalispell, Mont.) at www.dailyinterlake.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.