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Red Deer toddler badly injured in toboggan crash

A mother is urging tobogganers to wear helmets after her youngest son was seriously injured after crashing into a tree on Michener Hill in Red Deer nearly two weeks ago.

Kim Regnier said her son Bennett, who turns three next month, suffered a fractured skull and fractured orbital bone — but fortunately no brain damage — following a mishap on the afternoon of Jan. 6.

She and her boyfriend Trevor Schafers and their blended family of five children were tobogganing on the hill, located on the east side of 40th Avenue near 55th Street.

The family had been to the hill about five times previously this winter.

Bennett, described as big for his age, would normally toboggan with one of the older children. But on this outing, Bennett didn’t want anyone else on board.

He started from about halfway up the hill. It was his sixth time going down the hill by himself that day.

“He was going down the hill and the sled just dog-legged and went right into a tree,” said Regnier, who recently moved with her boyfriend and their children from Red Deer to Eckville.

After the crash, Schafers, trained as a psychiatric nurse and who now owns a rental company, stabilized the boy.

Bennett was taken to emergency at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre and then immediately to a trauma room.

A neck brace was put on him.

“He wasn’t knocked out, he was able to talk to us,” said Regnier.

“We were able to explain and interact with him up until the CT scan.”

The boy underwent a CT (computerized tomography) scan of his body and it was during this time that Schafers, who was observing, noticed that Bennett wasn’t doing well.

The boy began twitching on the board. Schafers turned him on his side and the boy began throwing up.

“He just went downhill from there, he had about a three-minute seizure,” said Regnier. “They had to comatize him to make him stable.”

A pediatric team came from Calgary and then transferred him by ambulance to the Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary.

He could have been airlifted but the air pressure wouldn’t have been good for her son’s condition, added Regnier.

He was kept in a medically induced coma until Monday night. Bennett was released from hospital on Wednesday.

Doctors said the boy also suffered a broken nose, but it seemed to have fused back together and is OK.

He will need some rehabilitation to make sure his co-ordination is good.

“He’s walking, he’s jumping,” said Regnier.

Regnier said she understands that two other children from the Central Alberta region ended up in the Alberta Children’s Hospital because of tobogganing injuries.

Regnier visited the Red Deer hospital on Wednesday to thank emergency medical staff. Bennett came along.

“The ladies were just amazed that he’s walking, talking because it was pretty scary. The Red Deer hospital had said that brain damage was a possibility.”

Regnier, Schafers and the five children all have newly purchased helmets.

The mother said that even though this isn’t a motorized sport, people still need to use proper safety precautions. Tobogganing should be treated as a sport, she said.

“We just didn’t think of using helmets for tobogganing,” said Regnier.

Alberta Health Services does not keep statistics on tobogganing-related injuries. The Alberta Centre for Injury Control and Research reported 410 sledding related injuries in Alberta between 2004 and 2008.



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