Iraq vet hit by garbage truck recovering at Vancouver VA

Vancouver man struck while walking to work in downtown

By Emily Gillespie and Patty Hastings

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A local Iraq war veteran is still recovering after he was hit by a garbage truck in Vancouver late last month, severely injuring the right side of his body.

The streets of downtown were mostly empty when Robert Dare, 27, was walking to work around 5:15 a.m. Sept. 30. But when he crossed West 15th Street, he heard the roar of an engine.

“I knew something was coming down the road, but I didn’t think I would get hit,” Dare said.

A Waste Connections truck was turning right onto the road from Main Street and Dare was in the blind spot of the driver, identified as 34-year-old Joshua Day, said Kim Kapp, spokeswoman for the Vancouver Police Department. The truck struck Dare on his right side.

Dare said he was in the crosswalk when he was hit, but police said he crossed in the middle of the block. Neither Dare nor Day has been cited.

Dare was transported to PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center with a fractured spine, broken ankle and broken shoulder. During surgery, physicians put pins into his spine and ankle.

Six weeks of rehabilitation

He was later transferred to the VA Medical Center in Vancouver, where he’s expected go through rehabilitation for at least six more weeks.

The Army veteran deployed to Iraq for 15 months from 2007 to 2009. There, he walked away without a scratch. Now, he can’t bend at the waist and has trouble taking care of himself without help. He uses a wheelchair and wears a cast on his right ankle.

“I could be crippled for life for all I know,” Dare said.

The former cross-country runner has lost about 20 pounds since he’s been admitted, mostly in muscle mass.

The VA is covering the cost of his medical, but Dare said he’s still wracking up bills and can’t return to work. Veterans Advocate and Organizer Penny Dex set up an online fundraiser that aims to collect $3,500 in donations to help offset his expenses.