After several critical days spent in a Calgary hospital, Pat Henman and Maia Vezina are making progress in their recovery following an horrific car accident Sunday.
The well-known locals were travelling home from Calgary last weekend when another car crossed the centre line and struck the mother and daughter's vehicle head on near Skookumchuck. Pat, a leader in the arts community, just wrapped up a successful production of Cabaret that she directed.
On Friday, Pat’s oldest sibling Jim Henman, who lives in Nova Scotia, reported his sister turned a corner in her recovery with doctors listing her in stable condition – in fact “very stable,” he said.
“That’s a miracle from where she was on Monday,” said Jim. “We are so overjoyed but she still has a difficult path ahead of her.”
Pat suffered many broken bones and has many internal injuries requiring many surgeries, almost daily, said Jim. Along the way, she’s needed resuscitation numerous times and has been on life support. But Friday, he seemed hopeful enough in her recovery to delay a trip west to her bedside where she now only requires breathing tube assistance.
“Strong lady, my sister,” said Jim. “She’s seems to recognize her husband and her children. She’s come a long way in five days. That’s why we’re saying this is a miracle. It (the accident) was quite the impact.”
Maia also suffered many broken bones and had internal injuries but stabilized sooner than her mother.
“She seems to be doing quite well though she’s in a lot of pain,” said Jim. “She wants to get out of bed.”
Maia will also have a long recovery ahead aided by her youth.
Well-known across Canada for its quality trauma unit, Jim is thankful his sister and niece are in such good hands at the Foothills Hospital ICU.
“So many people were required to keep her alive,” he said. “It must be truly an amazing team they have there.”
Pat’s husband, Larry and their two other children Zoe and Liam are in Calgary to be with their recovering loved ones. It’s been a difficult being so far away during this time of family crisis, said Jim.
“I don’t think I’ve gone through anything in my whole life as stressful as being here and feeling like there is nothing you can do,” he said. “I’ve probably done more praying this week than I have done in the last year. I’ve prayed more for my sister than anything else. At least then, it feels like you are doing something.”
It is expected that Pat will be in the hospital for several months before even entering rehabilitation. The cost to the family in the next year as Pat and Maia recover will be “tremendous” said Jim. And already locals are working to help.
Pat’s close friend and co-worker at Selkirk College Joyce Buckler has set up a fund to help the family through the long struggle still lying ahead.
Called the Pat Henman Support fund, Joyce said people wanted to give back to the woman who worked fundraising for the college.
“Her co-workers wanted to help and it just spread from there,” she said. “I am hoping this fund will help them financially to pay for accommodations, for food and any expenses around staying in Calgary for an extended period of time while they (Pat and Maia) are recovering.”
The accident has been traumatic for those close to the well-known woman.
“We want them to come home,” said Joyce. “They are so well-knows and well-liked. It’s very sad what’s happened to them. It’s going to be a long road back for them. We can’t be there to mend their bones but maybe we can help financially to ease the burden a bit.”
Anyone wishing to help can contact Joyceat 250-365-1360 or through email at email@example.com
As investigation into the crash continues, Kimberley RCMP is seeking witnesses to the event taking place on June 9. At about 5:30 p.m. near Skookumchuck, a northbound grey 2002 Ford Escape with an Alberta licence plate crossed the centre line and struck the red Toyota Corolla head on.
Pat and Maia were returning from Calgary at the time along Highway 93/95.
Police suspect alcohol was a factor in the accident and would like to hear from anyone who may have observed driving behaviour of those involved. RCMP also wishes to speak with anyone in contact with the drivers of either vehicle in the hours preceding the crash. Anyone with information can contact the Kimberley detachment at 250-427-4811.