After two weeks in Boston General Hospital, Whitehorse’s Darryl Tait is back in Canada.
The 19-year-old was transported via a medevac flight to the Vancouver General Hospital on Monday. There he will continue to receive treatment and eventually attend a rehab centre.
Tait was badly injured while performing a back flip on his snowmobile at a sledding demonstration in New Hampshire on October 11. Unable to complete the flip, Tait was crushed by his sled.
Because of the damage to his lungs in the accident, one being punctured and the other collapsed, doctors were waiting for Tait to be removed from a respirator before performing back surgery last Wednesday.
After the surgery, it was confirmed by doctors that Tait had severed his spinal cord during the accident and was now paralyzed from the chest down.
“He’s making daily progressions, as far as breathing on his own now, and they’ve had him in a wheelchair and had him outside,” said Russ Tait, Darryl’s uncle. “He has a lot of healing to do and he’s definitely making progress.”
It is believed that a mechanical malfunction may have caused the crash, with the snowmobile engine cutting out just after liftoff.
“Something happened with the sled so it didn’t have enough power to flip around,” said Jordan Sands, one of four friends to fly to Boston visit Tait, in an interview last week. “It cut out right as he was coming off the lip.”
Tait has a long history of involvement in sports with aerial elements, including motorcross, BMX riding, skateboarding, and snowboarding, in which he won Arctic Winter Games medals. He began freestyle snowmobiling after moving to the Yukon from Yellowknife, NWT, in 2008.
“Anything that had to with some piece of equipment and being in the air, that was his game,” said Russ. “He was a young man doing what his passion was, and his goal was to ride in the X Games and he was making lots of strides in that direction. He was invited to Colorado to ride with the guys that won the X Games last year.”
Closer to home, in April Tait won the 500cc division at the Snowmobile Up Hill Challenge hosted by Mount Sima in Whitehorse.
In August, Tait displayed his freestyle abilities at the YXY Games in a freestyle ramp show in Whitehorse, winning best trick and the freestyle competition, completing back flips to win both events.
“As he started functioning on his own, without the medication, he’s more and more has a real grasp on his situation,” said Russ. “He’s going to have some tough moments for sure, but he’s a positive kid and he’ll know his situation and deal with it from there.”
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