Community rallies around injured snowmobiler

Bulkley Valley Search and Rescue use Smithers Silver King helicopter to save man.

Kelvin Patrick with wife Annie. Contributed photo

A Houston man badly injured in a snowmobile accident earlier this month may not need surgery as first feared, but he does face an extensive period of rehabilitation.

The news follows the start of an online campaign to raise money for expenses Kelvin Patrick and his family will face, said longtime friend Shea Long.

“It’s going to be extensive, perhaps six months,” said Long last week of Patrick’s anticipated recovery period.

Patrick was snowmobiling with friends at Dungate Meadows Feb. 18 when his machine fell back on him, resulting in the back end of it striking his back.

Long put an initial goal of $10,000 on the GoFundMe page created for Patrick but said that shouldn’t limit donations from those seeking to help him, wife Annie and two children.

“I put that down as a starting point,” said Long.

Patrick is self-employed as a logging truck owner/operator, meaning there’s no income coming in when he’s not working.

As of late last week, donations were at the halfway point toward $10,000.

Long, who was out with Patrick and other friends, was the first on the scene to assist Patrick when the accident occurred while “catwalking” his machine.

“I was about five seconds behind,” noted Long who, with others, stabilized Patrick while the call for an ambulance went out.

Patrick was conscious so his friends were able to reassure him help was on its way.

“We cleared the snow around, dug a hole and built a fire — it was -23 degrees,” Long said in adding he and others were worried about Patrick going into shock.

“We could talk to him and he could talk to us.”

The ambulance could not reach the exact scene so a paramedic was brought in by snowmobile as the decision was made to call for a helicopter to fly out Patrick. That helicopter was from Silver King Helicopters in Smithers and it soon arrived with two members of Smithers-based Bulkley Valley Search and Rescue aboard.

“They got him ready, put him on board the helicopter and then it flew to the Smithers airport,” said Long.

An air ambulance then flew Patrick to Vancouver General Hospital for treatment and assessments.

Surgeons first considered operating to fuse Patrick’s spine but he was then judged stable enough to undergo extensive physiotherapy instead. Details of what’s involved and how long Patrick may be away from home weren’t quite known as of late last week.

In addition to the GoFundMe page, Long is opening an account at the Bulkley Valley Credit Union in Houston so people can also have that option in which to make donations.

Long is also a director of the Houston Snowmobile Club and it was meeting this week to discuss other measures that could help Patrick and his family.

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