A MAN remained in critical condition in Vancouver General Hospital last week after an ATV accident left him with serious head and torso injuries.
Robert Keeler, 22, was riding on an ATV that was being towed on Penner St. by another ATV Feb. 18 when it flipped and he was thrown off.
Keeler, who was not wearing a helmet, was taken to Mills Memorial Hospital and then transferred to Vancouver on a medevac flight from Prince Rupert when fog and low clouds prevented the plane from landing here, said aunt Caroline Lozinksi.
At hospital in Vancouver, he underwent surgery to remove part of his skull to make a hole for his brain, which was swelling, she said.
As of Feb. 22, the piece of skull was still off, she said.
It’s believed he won’t be paralyzed because he tried to sit up and he could wiggle his toes, said Lozinski.
Keeler, Brandon Padalec and Keeler’s girlfriend Kristin Pearce had been riding their quads at King’s Pit in the evening of Feb. 18 and had run out of gas, said Debbie Nigh, another aunt of Keeler’s.
They decided that one ATV would tow the other one home, a short distance away, she said.
A winch on the first ATV was tied to the second ATV with a rope that went under the first quad and back to the second quad, said Lozinski.
Keeler only had one helmet so he took it off and gave it to his girlfriend, who was a passenger on the first quad, she said.
The rope went slack, got wound up in the first quad’s tire and stopped it dead, she added.
Keeler, who was steering the second quad, was thrown from it, said Nigh.
Keeler’s mom and brothers flew down to be by his side, said Lozinski.
His girlfriend was able to go thanks to the generosity of a friend who bought her a plane ticket, she added.
A police report indicated that all of the people involved had been drinking and that the driver of the first ATV was arrested at the scene.
Family members say none of those involved were drunk.
“We know they all had two beers with dinner hours earlier,” said Lozinski.
She said Padalec, who was driving the first ATV, was taken by police and passed a breathalyzer examination.
A trust fund in Keeler’s name has been set up at the Northern Savings Credit Union and donation jars are being put out at local businesses to help raise money for his medical bills.