Often in times of tragedy, a community will band together and people learn who their friends really are.
Photo: Contributed – Aaron Newman
Joe Police and Laura Egeland seen in happier times.
On Father’s Day, June 17, tragedy struck for Joe Police and Laura Egeland, when the Kelowna couple were seriously injured after a truck made a U-turn in front of their motorcycle near Osoyoos. (* Editor’s note – actually 2 miles south of Oliver)
Since then, Joe has undergone surgeries on his right leg from his knee right down to his heel, having broken both major bones in his lower leg, requiring pins and posts to hold his bones together.
He has also had a second surgery on his right shoulder and his right upper arm and forearm.
She has undergone a right leg amputation below the knee, a shattered femur above her right knee, and a shattered right hip resulting in total hip replacement surgery.
She also has four fractured ribs, broken bones in her right hand, and continues to have deep bruising on the right side of her chin and jaw.
Neither Joe nor Laura had extended medical benefits. And now their lives have changed forever.
At least Joe and Laura are surrounded by those who care.
Their friends, including Aaron and Kristen Newman, have organized a fundraiser for the pair this weekend, and Kristen also took the time to sit with Laura after the crash and tell their story:
It was at Laura’s insistence that Joe finally made the purchase he longed for, a brand new 2012 Harley Davidson FLH RC Road King.
Mind you, Laura wasn’t complaining. This new ride was far more comfortable than the old 1973 Shovel Head Joe road last year.
He was cautious about taking Laura on the bike, as she had just starting riding again last year after a 20 year break, and was still building up confidence as a bike passenger. She had never been as comfortable as she was with Joe. On Father’s Day, nine days after Laura had undergone minor surgery and felt well enough to be seated on the bike again, Joe and Laura set out to ride to Rock Creek and return through Osoyoos.
As Joe and Laura rode out past the Osoyoos sign toward Oliver, they rounded a corner, then past road 7.
The bike and its passenger approached a Ford pick-up truck idling on the right hand shoulder of the two lane highway. Witnesses report the truck had pulled off, and appeared to be preparing to make a U-turn.
The truck turned back onto the highway at the same moment Joe and Laura were passing the door of the truck.
The truck and bike collided, ejecting Joe onto his quick-release windshield, saving him from much more extensive injuries. Laura was not so lucky.
Laura struggled to maintain consciousness from the time of the accident and her right leg was severed below the knee at the scene.
Joe and Laura were transported by separate ambulances to Oliver Hospital, and then air lifted to Kelowna General Hospital.
Laura’s leg was amputated upon arrival at KGH and from there, she spent the next few days in the Surgical Critical Care Unit.
After 4 days in SCCU while Joe recovered in a 4-bed room, two floors above Laura, she was transported to visit Joe for 30 minutes in his room. The following day, the two were moved into a semi-private room, where the two of them are recovering today.
Joe and Laura will call this room at KGH home for the next few weeks.
“We’re getting there. Some days are good, some moments are good then other moments are bad other days are bad,” says Police from his hospital bed.
“I’m really kind of blown away with the support of my friends and family. It makes you feel good. I cry about it, it’s so beautiful.”
Their medical costs will be high, and the subsequent surgeries require months of physiotherapy. Their home will require adaptations to facilitate recovery in comfort, such as a ramp or lift, and a larger shower with wheelchair or crutch accessibility.
They are far from being released to go home.
“Our rehab fellow told us that we’re probably still looking at five to seven weeks in the hospital,” says Egeland, who was also reached in her hospital bed. A bed that is right beside her partner’s. “But it could be longer.”
On Saturday June 30, visitors to the Bike Swap at Centennial Hall in Rutland between 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., are encouraged to look for the special booth set up to help Joe and Laura.
There’s a silent auction through the day and cash and personal cheque donations will also be accepted at the booth.
All proceeds will go directly to their recovery and medical costs. For more information, or to make a donation, call Aaron Newman at 250-307-8634.
All photos credited to Aaron Newman – printed with permission of Castanet