Helmet saved skater's life after being hit by drunk driver

·3 min read

Pembroke – As Sam Lavoie-Commanda continues to recuperate at home from surgery after he was hit by a drunk driver while in-line skating, he is very cognizant his helmet likely saved his life.

“When we were in the hospital, the nurses and doctors we spoke to all commented that the reason his head CT was clear is because he was wearing his helmet and it was properly fitted,” his wife, Karley Arlen Meloche, noted. “His helmet stayed on during the accident and the paramedics cut it off.

“I believe it is the reason Sam is still here with us,” she added. “It saved his life.”

The 28-year-old was hit by an impaired driver while he was roller-blading a short distance from his home in Pembroke on a Sunday evening 10 days ago. The impact of the collision on Boundary Road sent him through the windshield of the vehicle and left him with severe injuries, including damage to both his legs. The Pembroke Fire Department was called in to extricate him safely from the vehicle. He was flown to Ottawa by ORNGE ambulance with “serious, life altering, injuries” according to the police report.

He underwent surgery on last Tuesday morning to place a titanium rod in his right leg. He had compartment syndrome which causes muscle and nerve damage along with pain, so there was some uncertainty as to when he would be able to come home, but he was back in Pembroke on Friday.

“We were told that subsequent surgeries are a possibility, but the doctors also said they can’t predict how his body handles the hardware,” she noted.

The prognosis by his doctors is they would like to see him walking unassisted in two months and healed in six months time if there are no complications.

When he was hit by the drunk driver, who was subsequently charged and scheduled for a court appearance in late April, Mr. Lavoie-Commanda was rollerblading from his home to his father’s house nearby. Ms. Meloche recalled he was about to leave and she reminded him to wear his helmet.

“He put it on before he left, along with his reflective work vest,” she noted.

Since the accident she went on social media to share their story and to ask people to take a lesson from this and not drink and drive. Since then, their story has been shared, including in the Leader last week, and Mr. Lavoie-Commanda and his family have received an outpouring of support, prayers and well wishes. The couple have three young children – Eve, Casey and Hugo.

“Tons of people are supporting us,” she said. “It has been unbelievable. It has really helped us to keep focused and has motivated Sam.”

He has family roots in Pikwakanagan and the couple live in Pembroke.

“I’m so grateful to live in a small community where people want to help one another out,” she said. “So many of our friends and family, close and far have reached out and I know that if I need something, they are just a phone call away. It is really amazing and we are so grateful.”

Anyone with information regarding this incident is asked to contact the Upper Ottawa Valley OPP at 613-732-3332 or Pembroke/Renfrew County Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477) or at www.valleytips.ca.

Debbi Christinck, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, The Eganville Leader