A former US Paralympian and humanitarian worker spoke to students at Smithers Secondary School about road safety and her experience after a car crash changed her life.
Tiana Tozer was a second year university student at the University of Oregon at the time of the crash that left her in the hospital for over a month.
She started the presentation talking about what it was like for her getting around and doing daily activities with her wheelchair.
May 14, 1988 is when her life changed.
She said after a rugby game at her university she made one poor choice which was not putting on her seatbelt.
“We were heading up the street in Eugene and all of a sudden there was a flash and I was on the ground. I remember thinking to myself, am I on the rugby field, have I just been tackled? I’m pushing against someone who’s not there saying get off me,” Tozer said.
She added that she thought she only had a couple of broken legs and would be out of the hospital in a couple of weeks.
According to Tozer, the vehicle broke everything from her left hip down and crushed her lower right leg.
She added her right leg was crushed so badly that it severed the premeral artery and muscles which means it was no longer getting enough blood.
Tozer went through many surgeries to locate the dying muscle to stop the leg from being infected, to the point where her bone was exposed.
She said that they tried to take a flap of her shoulder to cover the bone but that failed.
Doctors eventually took some muscle from her left leg to her right but that also failed.
Tozer said her third week in the hospital is when she no longer was in denial.
“I realized that I may not walk again, I’m never going to run down a basketball court again, rugby is completely out of the question and whether or not I leave the hospital with my right leg attached remains to be seen. Everything that I dreamed for my life is in pieces,” she said.
According to Tozer, the man that crashed into the vehicle was sentenced to one year in jail and 5 years probation.
He only ended up serving six months in jail and 5 years probation and was told to pay Tozer $250,000.
He would pay her $200 every month before the payments stopped with $160,000 still owing because of his lack of employment because of his record.
She says we each pay for the choices that we make.
Tozer now can walk but with a limp and can refrain from using her limp.
She ended her presentation with telling the students that nobody should die on our highways.
The presentation was a part of a campaign for students about road safety with ICBC.