After more than a decade as the mayor of Parkland County, Rod Shaigec will be stepping aside to turn his attention to recovering from a traumatic accident last fall when he was run over by his own tractor.
"I can't in good conscience continue on serving at this time if I can't put in a full effort and focus on the work ahead," Shaigec told CBC Radio's Edmonton AM,
The September 2020 accident left Shaigec with 16 broken bones, severely damage to his ankle and foot, and a collapsed and punctured lung. He was taken to the University of Alberta Hospital.
The pain he has endured since then is too much for him to bear, he said.
The day before the accident, Shaigec had done some baling before parking the tractor.
The next morning, he went out and started it. The diesel engine needed to warm up. Shaigec had neglected to put the transmission in park, he said.
"When I crawled out of the cab, almost at the exact time my feet were on the ground the transmission fluid had warmed up enough and engaged," he said.
"And I had no time to react to the dual wheels, which are about six to nine inches away from me, ran right over me — literally from head to foot."
Still lucid, he called 911.
Shaigec spent seven weeks at the U of A Hospital and another five at the Glenrose Rehabilitation Hospital. He was intubated for about 10 days, and heavily medicated for the duration of his stay at both hospitals.
Noting his tendencies to be a workaholic, Shaigec said that as soon as he was released from the intensive care unit, he asked his son to bring him a laptop.
His son refused.
"In hindsight, not a prudent request," Shaigec said. "My son told me I needed to focus on my rehab and recovery and the affairs of the county were well taken care of ... I'm thankful my son was the wiser of the two."
In January, Shaigec was back at work full-time, a decision he now regrets. "I directed all of my energy and focus into my work and, you know, that has compromised my health and recovery," he said.
Working from home, as a result of the pandemic, made things a little easier, he said.
"I was able to elevate my legs in those meetings, stand and stretch when needed, apply ice and take periodic breaks throughout the day and then work well into the evenings," he said.
But realizing that returning to the office, with full-time hours and in-person meetings, would be too difficult for his continued recovery, Shaigec decided to step down.
"This is the most difficult decision I've made in my professional career," he said.
"But reflecting back that I've had the good fortune and privilege to serve as mayor since 2010 and I loved it and I know I will miss it."
Municipal elections in Alberta will take place on Oct. 18.