Last Tuesday, July 19th in Grand Isle, my brother, father and first cousin were involved in a terrifying accident at a camp as 3 generations of our family all gathered for dinner. A stairway stringer broke and fell out from under their feet as they helped my 76-year old father (suffering from Parkinson's) up the stairs to the celebration.
As I write this, my Dad has returned back home and is recovering from a broken back; my cousin has just been transferred to Shreveport after surgery in New Orleans to repair his injuries and broken nose; and my brother, luckily, is simply icing his bruises back in Dallas and attempting to get his life back to normal.
As for myself, I'm waking up each day trying to make sense of why this happened and how to move forward and turn this senseless accident into some sort of meaning and positive message, which is why I am writing this now.
First, I want to say how grateful I am that the three victims of this are going to be ok and make full recoveries.
Coming from the suburbs of Dallas, you wouldn't expect such quality emergency care in a remote area of Louisiana. But I have such high praise to the volunteer EMT team from Grand Isle that arrived on the scene to help my Dad and cousin. I got to witness their talents from start to finish as they loaded them into the ambulance and I rode with them all the way to Galliano to Lady of the Sea General Hospital where they were also given top-notch emergency care before being transferred elsewhere in the state.
Secondly, after surveying the accident scene I can't help but shake my head at what happened. While it was a freak accident and no one is pointing fingers in blame, this accident was completely avoidable.
The construction of the stairway was really bad and, as they say, a "ticking time-bomb". It was only a matter of time before the faulty construction of the stairway exposed its weakness and came crashing down. The scary reality is this; many other camps share this bad construction and my guess is that no one thinks or expects that this type of accident will ever occur.
I surveyed about 30 camps in the surrounding area the next day in my curiosity and found at least 3 or 4 that shared this type of weakness and mis-construction.
Camp owners and builders can avoid this nightmare in the future with the most basic of inspections and/or repairs. But the first step is awareness and belief that this accident can happen … and that the stakes are extremely high.
What if some of the grandkids had been on the stairway when it gave loose?
Four generations of my family have been traveling to Grand Isle every single year without fail. Some of them travel there 6 to 8 times each year, and for some of us, this is the annual family trip that we put on the calendar immediately after the current year trip ends.
This accident is not going to be our legacy memory, but it will be a difficult one to shake and not reflect upon each year. I need to channel my emotions on what happened in hopes that no other family has to go through this type of accident, because someone will lose their life next time from a head injury or some sort of fatal internal injury.
I hope this helps raise awareness of this concern. It would really help our family heal and hopefully help another precious family avoid a fatal tragedy in the future.
Posted on Tue, July 26, 2016
by The Lafourche Gazette