Eighteen-year-old Stacey was traveling back to Grande Cache from Calgary in September 2007 with a friend. It was late at night and they were going through Banff Park on Highway 93 towards Jasper.
Her friend was driving, and to this day, Stacey doesn’t remember what happened. She later learned that the vehicle had gone off a steep embankment and rolled 917 feet. It took eight hours for help to arrive. A rescue helicopter took her off the mountain and then transfered her to STARS. Stacey was taken to the Foothills Medical Centre in Calgary where she would spend the next two months.
Stacey’s injuries were so extensive that she was virtually unrecognizable. Her mother Patty described how she identified her daughter by her fingernails.
“When I got to the ICU, she was on ventilators and listed as an unidentified female,” said Patty. Patty had been working in the Hinton area when she initially received the call from the RCMP. “He said there’s been an accident and Stacey was badly injured and in the air with STARS as we speak,” said Patty. “If it wasn’t for STARS, she wouldn’t be alive today.”
After the call from the RCMP, Patty’s niece and daughter Stephanie picked her up and began the long drive to Calgary.
Stacey suffered major head, brain and facial injuries. She had broken bones including her scapula, collarbone, radius, ulna, wrists, tibia and ankles. Both her legs had crush injuries, and for the first while, doctors didn’t know if she would lose them.
She was in a coma for the first two weeks and didn’t remember anyone when she woke up. As Stacey began to recover, her memories came back slowly. One of the most emotionally painful moments for Stacey was that she hadn’t remembered that her father had died nine months prior. Her mom had to break the news to her all over again.
Two months into her recovery, Stacey was moved to the Queen Elizabeth II Hospital in Grande Prairie so she could be closer to home. After another two months in hospital, she was finally able to go home, but her life would never be the same.
“I will probably be on pain medications for the rest of my life,” said Stacey, adding that the simplest activities can sometimes wear her out quickly.
However, she’s very independent and now lives on her own in a two-bedroom apartment in Calgary with her new pet Chihuahua Zorro, a 21st birthday present from a special friend.