Friends and family members of a man who was left paralyzed after a crash last year are coming together to help raise more money for his care.
On Feb. 21, 2022, Wayne Wiltse suffered catastrophic injuries when he was on his way to work as a director of lift maintenance at Whistler Blackcomb.
His car collided with an RCMP cruiser travelling northbound.
Wiltse spent three months in Vancouver General Hospital and is still undergoing physiotherapy at G.F. Strong Rehabilitation Centre.
His community of supporters now wants to raise money to help with home renovations and the purchase of significant accessibility equipment, including the purchase of a sprinter van.
“We’re here because life changes so quickly sometimes,” friend Doug Forseth told Global News. “This time, almost a year ago, Wayne got up, had breakfast, started off to work and minutes later life had changed for him immensely.
“He’s lucky to be alive. We’re happy that he is. We’re happy to see him fight back through all of this (to) make the best of it.”
Lower Mainland mother and daughter team up to raise money and send a message
The Independent Investigations Office (IIO) of B.C. investigated the collision and found Wiltse “crossed entirely from his southbound lane into the northbound lane. The officer was completely within his own lane of travel and not responsible for the collision or the resulting injuries of the other driver.”
The investigation has now concluded.
But for Wiltse and his family, the road to recovery and rehabilitation will be a long one.
“Wayne’s a special guy,” Forseth said. “I worked with him for over 25 years. He was a leader of people in a very kind and gentle way.”
He said Wiltse just encouraged people to work hard through kindness and understanding and he has had an impact on so many people’s lives.
Melissa Hollis, a friend and fellow organizer, also worked with Wiltse for many years at Whistler Blackcomb.
“(He) and his wife Annette have always been wonderful to be around,” she said. “It’s great to see how the whole Sea-to-Sky community has come together in so many ways.”
B.C. law student launches ‘Slava Sweatshirts’ fashion line to raise money for Ukraine
Boy picks shipping container for hide-and-seek, ends up 2,500 km from home
Hollis added that the skiing community across the province has rallied to help Wiltse and his family.
The auction to raise money for his recovery includes items such as a gondola (yes, an actual gondola), concert tickets, clothing and more.
A GoFundMe has also been set up to raise money through donations.
Forseth said they have had donations from people who do not even know Wiltse but have just heard about him through others.
“That’s where this money is going,” he said. “It’s going towards his new life and to help him all get set up with what he needs.”
© 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.