Doctors told 24-year-old Alexandrew Harner that the impact from the vehicle that struck him from behind caused his spine to “snap like a log,” family members said.
Harner was skateboarding on Northwest 99th Street in front of Columbia River High School on Tuesday night when he was hit by a Pontiac minivan traveling 30 mph, according to the Clark County Sheriff’s Office.
The sheriff’s office has not identified Harner, but his family spoke with The Columbian on Friday partly because his recovery will be lengthy and will cause financial hardships for a growing family.
Amanda Kessel — Harner’s girlfriend’s mother, who referred to herself as his mother-in-law as they’re close and the couple are engaged — said doctors relayed that chances are poor Harner will walk again.
“(Social Security) is his only income, and he has 6-month-old boy to care for,” Amanda Kessel said.
Clark County sheriff’s deputies, firefighters and medics responded about 9:30 p.m. to 800 N.W. 99th St. for a report of a vehicle-versus-pedestrian crash.
A man identified as a Vancouver resident was hit from behind while heading west on the road in a crouched position, sheriff’s Sgt. Scott Schanaker said.
The driver of the Pontiac was cooperative with investigators, Clark County Fire District 6 Battalion Chief Bryan Baum said. No arrests or citations were made. An on-duty sergeant said Friday that the case has been handed over to the traffic unit, but no other details were immediately available.
Harner lives with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, known as ADHD, as well as bipolar and schizophrenic disorders; he does not have a license, said Amanda Kessel. He uses his skateboard, bicycle and the bus to get around town, she said.
“He loves to skateboard. He goes everywhere on it,” she said.
Harner was headed to Amanda Kessel’s home, where his son is living, to say goodnight to the baby boy for a “6-month birthday,” Kessel said. He told Amanda Kessel he was westbound on 99th, riding crouched down in the bike lane. There were signs on the sidewalk, he told her.
A water main break in front of the high school has prompted ongoing repairs in the area. On Friday, work crews were out in full force, redirecting westbound traffic into a single lane. The sidewalk on the south side of the street was blocked off.
“The car hit him from behind, and that’s the last thing he remembers,” Amanda Kessel said.
Doctors rushed Harner into emergency surgery. They inserted a metal rod and four screws into his spine. They stitched up cuts on his face and head, said Angelea Kessel, Harner’s fiancee.
“He likes to be up and doing things all the time,” Angelea Kessel said, adding the new father may not be able to be active with his son, Skyler Mark Kessel-Harner, who was born prematurely and needs care of his own.
“I’ve been bedridden for three days. There’s no feeling in my legs,” Harner said from his hospital bed, before promptly getting off the phone, because nurses brought a wheelchair to offer him some mobility.
Amanda Kessel said Harner’s disability insurance will pay for some of his medical bills, but the crash will make things more difficult than they already were going. The couple are temporarily homeless; they couldn’t afford a place to live, Amanda Kessel said.
Treatment and accommodations that can help Harner live a normal life will also be needed.
“We could just really use some help, even advice for what’s best to do and how we can move forward,” said Amanda Kessel.
The family has set up a Fundraiser page on Facebook to help cover expenses. It can be found at https://www.facebook.com/donate/337210453645030/. They are also working to set up a Gofundme.