The victim of a head-on collision that closed Highway 22 between Castlegar and Trail for more than 10 hours on Oct. 25 is facing a long recovery.
Jessica Kluckert, 22, got into her Honda and left home in Trail early that Monday morning. Near China Creek, a south-bound Kia crossed the centre line and struck her vehicle head on.
Kluckert was first transported to the Kootenay Boundary Regional Hospital, but was later air-lifted to Kelowna General Hospital.
The driver of the Kia was also transported to hospital, with undisclosed injuries.
According to Jennifer Burton, Kluckert’s friend and employer, Kluckert’s injuries are “life altering” and include a shattered pelvis and ankle, and a leg that was “broken in half.”
Kluckert remains in the Kelowna hospital, but plans are being made to transfer her to the Trail hospital in another week. Once she is there, she will start therapy and rehabilitation with the goal of being able to walk again.
Burton says Kluckert will have to be in a wheel chair for at least three months.
“They have no idea if she will be able to walk properly again.”
Kluckert’s friends have now set up a GoFundMe page to help the family cover expenses related to her extensive hospital stay, physio therapy, lost wages, and recovery.
Burton says Kluckert is a very optimistic person who is used to taking care of other people and volunteering her time.
“You know people that are so gentle, very approachable, very real and easy to connect with — she is one of those people. She always has a smile on her face and is willing to help you.
“There is something about Jessica — her energy is so welcoming and so pure.”
The outpouring of support has been amazing and the GoFundMe campaign has already reached its $20,000 goal in just over a week.
Burton says the comments posted to the campaign page have been an encouragement to Kluckert as has the relief of knowing the family’s immediate financial needs have been taken care of.
“We are so grateful,” added Burton. “It’s amazing how people come together, it’s all about helping someone else.”
BC Highway Patrol Sgt. Chad Badry says the investigation into the incident is still in the early stages, but confirmed that search warrants on the vehicle and at the hospital had been executed and that lab results are pending.
“We look at this as a really serious crash and we have taken a number of investigative steps,” Badry told Castlegar News. “It is still an active investigation and we do expect to recommend charges to Crown counsel for consideration. But it will be several months because of the complexity of the investigative steps that need to be taken.”
At the time of the incident, police said they had not ruled out speed and impairment as contributing factors on the part of the driver of the southbound Kia.
Anyone with information regarding the crash, including any dashboard camera video of any pre-collision driving, is asked to contact BC Highway Patrol in Nelson at 250-354-5180.