Mary-Jo was hurt today in a skiing accident at Whitewater, Nelson’s local mountain. She was having a great day. She was skiing in the trees of Sluicebox, Concentrator, even Catch Basin in the morning and early afternoon.
The accident happened at 2pm, a few minutes after we got off the Summit Chair. Mary-Jo met up with some other people and decided to join them for a trip to Backside. We still don’t know who these people were, but if they could contact us, we would appreciate it very much.
The group started the traverse to Glory Basin. Tony and I were on snowboards and were about a hundred meters behind. I was cutting below the traverse and starting to drop into Gold Pan when I noticed a commotion at the spot where the traverse cuts left. I was able to climb back up, and when I got there I saw Mary-Jo lying prone on her back with her legs twisted to the side. (She has since told me that her ski tip caught a tree branch and she crashed forward onto her head). At first I thought she was just winded from the fall, but as I got closer I could see she was in real pain, and not moving at all. A gentleman I didn’t know (one of the men she had joined for the trip to backside, I think) had taken charge. He sent me off to get the ski patrol while he had others cover her up and block the track. I ran back to the lift and then to the patrol shack where they sent out a call. I raced back to the top of the lift and waited for the patrollers.
When they made it to the top I took them to Mary-Jo. By this time, the gentleman was supporting her head to prevent any movement and MJ was covered by jackets. She was awake, but she was clearly in pain and definitely scared. I took over cradling her head. The patrollers began to dig out the trail so they could reorient her for the spinal board and the sled. It took about an hour or more to get her on the sled. We asked her where it hurt and she said in her hip, and her right shoulder was dislocated. (She told me later that she felt her neck shatter when she hit the snow). Her pulse was strong and her pupils were normal. But, in a painful whisper, she told me that she couldn’t feel her legs.
She was taken by sled down the mountain and then into the waiting ambulance. (She told me later that she had trouble breathing and was only able to breathe by drawing her mulha bandha down. This was because her intercostal muscles were parayzed and she couldn’t expand her chest. Only by making an extra effort to draw down her diaphram could she get any air).
The paramedics checked her out there and then after 45 minutes or so, they began the slow drive to the hospital. She was taken into xrays and afterward we learned that she had crushed her c5 and c6 vertabrae. The doctor started calling hospitals in Kelowna and Vancouver to find a neurologist for her, and by 7:30 pm, he decided to take her to Cranbrook and then fly her to Vancouver. The ambulance pulled away from the hospital at about 8:30pm.
Amanda, Mary-Jo’s eldest daughter, will be posting more updates from Vancouver starting Wednesday.