It was Friday, October 19, 2007 during afternoon rush hour when Darren Zatwarnitski was struck head-on by a semi truck while riding his Harley Davidson motorcycle at the intersection of 114 Street and 24 Avenue in Calgary. STARS does not frequently respond to calls within the city limits but the combination of rush hour traffic and severity of Darren’s injuries made for an exception.

Four years later, Darren describes himself as “broken from head to toe.” A long list of injuries that kept him hospitalized for seven months included a traumatic brain injury, basal skull fracture, optical nerve damage, broken jaw, fractured vertebrae, 12 broken ribs, a severely broken left wrist and hand, a separated right elbow, a fractured hip and pelvis, a left leg with multiple breaks and internal injuries. The list goes on and on…

While Darren has no memory of the accident he has been told that he and his bike were dragged under the semi subsequent to the collision. He has also been told that an auxiliary firefighter who had been called upon the scene along with the paramedics from the ground ambulance and the STARS team were instrumental in helping to save his life. STARS landed at the scene and had Darren in the trauma unit at Foothills Medical Centre in minutes.

Darren was in a coma for three weeks while his distressed family from Saskatchewan came to Calgary to sit by his bedside. He spent four months in Foothills, three months in a Carewest facility and subsequently years of rehabilitation.

Due to the severity of the numerous traumatic injuries sustained, Darren suffers long-term effects from the accident, however; he’s thankful that he survived.

“I’m here today because of STARS,” said Darren. “There’s no doubt about it, STARS saved my life.”

Today, Darren and his family are avid STARS supporters and volunteers.

Meet more of our VIPS