ATV accident victim moves forward with recovery

A YOUNG man who suffered a head injury in an ATV accident earlier this year is home and looking forward to getting back to work.

A YOUNG man who suffered a head injury in an ATV accident earlier this year is home and looking forward to getting back to work.

Robert Keeler has been home since May 26 and will be taking speech therapy starting in August as he’s still having trouble finding his words and may be able to get back to work in a few months.

He suffered a head injury when he was riding on an ATV that was being towed on Penner St. by another ATV when it rolled and he was thrown off, said Terrace RCMP about the February 18 accident at that time.

Robert, his girlfriend Kristin Pearce and a friend had been riding their quads at King’s Pit Feb. 18 and had run out of gas, said family members at that time.

They decided that one ATV would tow the other one home, a short distance away, said family.

A winch on the first ATV was tied to the second ATV with a rope running under the first quad back to the second quad.

Robert only had one helmet so he took it off and gave it to his girlfriend, who was a passenger on the first quad.

The rope went slack, got wound up in the first quad’s tire and stopped it dead.

Robert, who was steering the second quad, was thrown from it.

He was taken to Mills Memorial Hospital and then transferred to Vancouver.

“We thought when he left Terrace he would return an organ donor,” said his mom Brenda Keeler.

Two weeks after he was in hospital, he recognized what had happened and where he was but it took a while before he believed he’d been in an accident, she said.

He would see a photo of himself after the accident and say it hadn’t happened, but when he finally saw himself in the mirror, it started to sink in, said Brenda.

He doesn’t remember the accident or his time in hospital when he first got there, she said. It also took a while to remember he and his girlfriend had a baby but once he realized it, he was anxious to be reunited with his daughter, she said.

Doctors were impressed with how quickly he came along – he was told he could be in hospital in Vancouver for three months but was out of Vancouver General Hospital in three weeks.

He spent several weeks at GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre.

Since he’s been home, he’s been shooting hoops, going for hikes and cooking sometimes, said Brenda.

Contact sports are not allowed so he doesn’t hit his head – doctors had removed part of his skull to relieve pressure on his brain from swelling and it will take some time to heal, said Brenda.

One big thing for the family is seeing that his sense of humour has returned, she said.

“He’s very funny and always kept us laughing,” said aunt Caroline Lozinski.

He doesn’t know yet if he will be back riding ATVs again but his mom says if he never got on one again, that would be OK with her.

He works at Skeena Sawmills and his doctor said he could be back at work in six months to one year, but Keeler thinks it could be sooner than that. He’s always determined to do things on his own.

“He’s always been a bit of a go-getter,” said Brenda.

The family is thankful for all the moral support and prayers from friends and others too.

“I’ve never seen so many people pray for one person,” said Lozinski, adding that included relatives in other towns Robert had never met but who had their whole churches praying for him.

While in hospital, he said it felt like he had another chance at life. He’s especially thankful to his girlfriend for coming down to the hospital and being by his side through it all and his aunt Debbie Nigh for bringing their baby down to the hospital.