'We're starting to see the first signs of progress' says father of hit-and-run victim

·3 min read
Grace Haines is now receiving rehabilitation treatment at Sunny Hills Health Centre at B.C. Children’s Hospital
Grace Haines is now receiving rehabilitation treatment at Sunny Hills Health Centre at B.C. Children’s Hospital

(Submitted by Chris Haines - image credit)

Grace Haines has always enjoyed a challenge, but she is now facing the biggest challenge of her life — recovering from devastating injuries from a hit-and-run.

"She took pride in being able to out-lift boys at the gym," said her father Chris Haines, who often trained with her. "She could deadlift just under 250 pounds, which when you weigh 120 pounds is pretty good."

But one month after being hit by a car, the 17-year-old has almost no movement on her left side and is struggling to speak.

17-year-old Grace Haines enjoyed weightlifting with her father before she was injured in a hit-and-run crash.
17-year-old Grace Haines enjoyed weightlifting with her father before she was injured in a hit-and-run crash.

Haines went for a run in North Vancouver around 9:45 p.m. PT on Jan. 25, 2021 after a long day of studying for exams, according to her father.

She was found around half an hour later, injured and unconscious near Keith Road East and St. Andrews Avenue.

Haines was rushed to Lions Gate Hospital where she had emergency surgery for bleeding on her brain. The accident damaged her corpus callosum — the part of the brain that allows both sides to communicate.

Her father says the damage was clear after she awoke from her coma.

"She could open her right eye, but not her left eye. She can move her right hand, but not her left hand," he said.

Grace Haines (right) enjoyed weightlifting and often trained with her father Chris (left).
Grace Haines (right) enjoyed weightlifting and often trained with her father Chris (left).

Signs of progress

Last week Haines was moved to the Sunny Hill Health Centre at BC Children's Hospital for rehabilitation.

Her father says she still has some confusion, but understands she was in an accident.

On the bright side, he says they are already seeing small signs of improvement.

"There are some little movements in the left hand and left leg... Take those little victories as you can," he said.

Investigation continues

North Vancouver RCMP say a driver was arrested the same night of the crash, but the person was released and no charges have been laid yet.

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Several witnesses have come forward, but police are still appealing for information from anyone who may have seen anything in the area around the time of the accident.

Sgt. Peter DeVries says these types of investigations are complex, and can take a few months as it may involve accessing video and technical information from the car computer.

Focusing on Grace

But Chris Haines isn't thinking about any of that.

"I'm not focused on a month from now or a year from now, that scares me, that depresses me. I'm focused on tomorrow. What can we do today to make it for a better tomorrow," he said.

Grace Haines underwent emergency surgery to relieve bleeding on her brain.
Grace Haines underwent emergency surgery to relieve bleeding on her brain.

He says he has been overwhelmed with community support, including from people who are still dropping off food and offering to raise funds. He's encouraging people now to donate to the Lions Gate Hospital Foundation or Children's Hospital.

Haines says a social media campaign titled "#liftingforgrace" is also bringing inspiration. People from as far away as Brazil and Australia have posted videos of themselves weight-lifting or doing other fitness activities in her name.

Even Canada's Minister of National Defence Harjit Sajjan did chin-ups in Haines's honour. Sajjan served in the military with her father.

Haines says he has shown his daughter the videos, which have elicited a thumbs-up.

Grace Haines has been moved to the Sunny Hill Health Centre for rehabilitation, and her father says she is already asking him to wheel her to the gym where they lift small weights together.
Grace Haines has been moved to the Sunny Hill Health Centre for rehabilitation, and her father says she is already asking him to wheel her to the gym where they lift small weights together.

He says she is already asking him to wheel her to the gym where they lift small weights together.

"She will outlift the boys of the gym, again. She will outlift me one day, probably very soon. I've got no doubt about that," he said. "She's very strong, and she's very driven, and she's very intelligent and none of that is going to change."