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Cowichan rallies behind teen seriously injured in crash

Online fundraiser set up to help Falyne Smith and her family
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Following the 2023 hockey season, Falyne Smith was awarded the Christina McLeod Memorial trophy for most dedicated female player. (Citizen file)

One man is dead and a Lake Cowichan teenager is at B.C. Children’s Hospital in Vancouver after suffering a broken spine and severe internal injuries as a result of a two-car crash Friday, May 10 on Highway 18.

RCMP spokesman Cpl. James Grandy confirmed that at 4:15 p.m. on May 10, emergency crews were called out to a rollover crash on Highway 18 at Hillcrest involving a pickup truck and a Sante Fe.

Grandy said the driver of the pickup was pronounced dead at the scene while all four youth, who were in the Santa Fe, were sent to hospital for various injuries.

While the conditions of the driver of the Santa Fe and two of her passengers have yet to be publicly disclosed, it has been confirmed that Falyne Smith, 15, of Lake Cowichan, was first brought to Victoria General Hospital for emergency bowel surgery and then flown to B.C. Children’s Hospital in Vancouver for further care.

Once in Vancouver, Falyne was in sepsis and on life support and her feet were cold to the touch. It wasn’t until Sunday that she was stabilized and was able to withstand spinal surgery, which to her family’s great relief, was a success.

“The following day, she defied the odds by standing up and taking two steps before collapsing, overwhelmed with excitement and relief. This small but significant victory brings hope amid the turmoil. Now the months of rehabilitation begin,” said her grandmother Debbie Smith on the online fundraising page she’s set up for her granddaughter and their family.

“Currently, the family, with two other children, is staying at a motel in Vancouver without cooking facilities, forcing them to eat out constantly. They rely on Ubers and sky train for transportation to and from the hospital. The financial strain of living in Vancouver while maintaining their home in Lake Cowichan is immense. Despite these challenges, they continue to forge ahead with courage and hope, even when the odds seem against them.”

Their income has taken a hit so they can be with their daughter, but their expenses continue to rise, Smith said.

“Watching them navigate this difficult journey has been heart-wrenching, but there is one thing we can do: help alleviate their financial burdens,” she wrote.

As of Tuesday, May 21 at 10 a.m., the online fundraising campaign has raised $19,890 of its $15,000 goal through 148 donations.

To donate visit https://gofund.me/d36008bb

Roxanne Garnett and Brianne Thomassen have set up an account called ‘funds for friends’, where people can go into any First West Credit Union, Island Savings, Enderby Financial or Envision Financial and deposit a donation. The account number is Lake Cowichan 8557.

According to family, the recovery is expected to take at least three months. Falyne is backed by the support of the greater community. The goal is for Falyne, a talented athlete, to return to baseball, hockey and school sports.

Updates on the conditions of the other youth involved will be reported should more information become available.