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Accident victim recovering slowly

Erika Sherk
Northern News Services

Hay River Reserve (Nov 06/06) - A Hay River Reserve man has come out of his coma in an Edmonton hospital after a hit and run.

Wayne Elleeze was walking into the reserve on the main access road Oct. 15 when he was hit by a pickup truck.

NNSL Photo/graphic

Wayne Eileeze, pictured recently at his job as recreation assistant at the Hay River Dene Reserve, was hit by a truck Oct. 15. He is now in Edmonton recovering from serious injuries. - courtesy of Al Browning

Elleeze, 37, was taken to the Hay River hospital but was soon airlifted to Edmonton.He had to undergo surgery on his broken back and legs.Several ribs were also broken, according to his step-mother Elizabeth Minoza.

Minoza has been in Edmonton with him since the accident.

"I was scared to see him at first," she said.

"I didn't know what to expect."

She said doctors encouraged her to see her stepson, saying "it's better for you to see him when he's still alive."

It was scary to see him all covered in tubes and wires, she said.

After that experience, it's just been "relief" that he's starting to get better, she said.

He was in an induced coma for about a week, she said, but has recently come out of it.

Since coming out of the coma, Elleeze was on life support, but was taken off it yesterday, she said.

He can talk now, "but he's not himself," said Minoza.

"He's quite mixed up," she said.

"We have to remind him that he's in the hospital."

He wants to go home, said Minoza. "He tries to pull every wire that's in him."

He was always on the go, she said.

"He is really handy," she said. "He's a good cook, he does woodworking with his uncle and he fishes commercially in the winter."

Now, she said doctors expect he'll be at the Royal Alexandra Hospital for at least a month, if not longer.

"He still has to go through therapy," she said.

It hasn't been easy for the family, she said.

She is the only one staying with Elleeze in Edmonton now, as other family members had to return to work. However, Elleeze received a visit from three reserve councillors who were in Edmonton for meetings this week.

The K'atlodeeche Reserve is following his progress closely, said Al Browning, who has worked with Elleeze for four years at the reserve's recreation department.

Browning said Elleeze is his best friend as well as co-worker. "It's been really hard, the whole community is pretty shook up about it," he said.

He has strangers come up and ask how Elleeze is doing, he said.

Browning said he was looking forward to speaking to Elleeze.

"Once he hears my voice, I know he'll feel better."

Money is being collected for Elleeze's family at the Ehdah Cho grocery store. Manager Warren Nekurak said people have given $670 so far.

"We call it our 9-1-1 fund," he said. "People are reaching out and showing they care. "We just want to help in any way we can."

Brent Richard Norn has been charged in connection to the accident that sent Elleeze to hospital.

He faces several charges, including impaired driving causing bodily harm and failure to stop at the scene of the accident.