Inline skaterin hospital with serious injuries after being hit

·4 min read

Pembroke – A young father with family roots in Pikwakangan was in an Ottawa hospital on Tuesday morning awaiting surgery to put titanium rods in his leg after he was struck by a drunk driver while rollerblading on Sunday.

Sam Lavoie-Commanda, 28, was hit by an impaired driver while he was roller-blading a short distance from his home in Pembroke. The impact of the collision sent him through the windshield of the vehicle and left him with severe injuries, including damage to both his legs. His partner, Karley Arlen Meloche, went on social media to share the horror of their story as well as to raise awareness and urge others to take a lesson from this and not drink and drive.

“I sit here in the hospital beside my best friend whose legs are mangled, his body is full of glass and he is getting titanium rods put in his leg tomorrow and I beg you not to drive under the influence,” she said. “I beg you not to drive distracted. I beg you to be responsible.”

The accident occurred in the evening following a glorious day on the first day of spring when the weather reached the mid-teens after a long cold winter and many people were outside enjoying the outdoors. According to the Upper Ottawa Valley OPP, police responded to the collision at approximately 9:15 on Boundary Road. According to the report, the preliminary investigation revealed a westbound passenger vehicle struck a westbound in-line skater who then entered the vehicle through the windshield.

When the accident occurred, Ms. Meloche was at home waiting for him to get back from roller blading.

“My husband went out for a roller blade last night and on his way home, 100 feet from our house, he was struck by a drunk driver,” she wrote on Monday. “I was waiting for him and when he was late, I got nervous and I looked out my door as I heard sirens approaching and lights flashing.”

At that point, she still did not know it was Mr. Lavoie-Commanda who was hurt.

“I ran out my door in bare feet and yelled to a crowd asking if it was a guy on roller blades and as they told me ‘yes’ my heart sank,” she said. “I ran faster to the ambulance and was intercepted by police grabbing at me and medics blocking my view. They were doing their job and I respect that. I was a mess.”

Mr. Lavoie-Commanda could hear her yelling and also yelled out for her, so she knew he was conscious. She also knew he was badly hurt.

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. While he was in transit, Ms. Meloche drove to the hospital, not sure of what condition she would find her husband and partner. Since then, she has been with him in hospital and able to hear his story.

“I can’t stand to think of what Sam tells me of the incident because the actions of the driver were atrocious even after the incident,” she said. “I won’t describe them because that is Sam’s story to tell when he is ready.”

The couple realize they have a long road ahead with surgery and recovery. Ms. Meloche told the Leader surgery was scheduled for early in the morning on Tuesday. He was scheduled to have titanium rods and plates in his right leg and a plan was being developed for the left leg. She said she considered carefully what to put in her social media posting and re-wrote it several times, but wanted to send out a message about drinking and driving and was glad for the Leader to use her words to tell their story.

Mr. Lavoie-Commanda is no stranger to Leader readers as a dancer in the Algonquins of Pikwakanagan Pow Wow. At the last pow wow, held in 2019, he was not only dancing, but sharing the tradition with his three children, including his infant son. His father, Randy Commanda, is well-known locally for his participation in the annual event.

According to the police report, the driver of the vehicle, Evan Foss, 41, of Laurentian Valley Township, was not injured. OPP Technical Collision Investigators (TCI) attended the scene and are assisting with the investigation along with OPP Forensic Identification Services (FIS) members.

As part of the investigation a Roadside Screening Device was utilized and the driver was transported to the detachment for further testing. Mr. Foss was charged with operation while impaired - blood alcohol concentration 80mg plus and operation causing bodily harm.

The accused had his driver's licence suspended for 90 days and vehicle towed and impounded for seven days. The accused was released to appear at the Ontario Court of Justice in Pembroke on April 27. 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