A Vancouver man paralyzed from the waist down during a bar room shooting in Thailand faces an uncertain future as he tries to return home to B.C.
Nic Brown went to Thailand about one year ago to teach English after travelling to 17 different countries around the world in the past five years. After the job ended, he stayed in the country on a tourist visa.
Last summer, Brown was in a city called Chiang Mai, at a bar he describes as “not even a dangerous place, in an upscale part of the city.”
When a fight erupted between a Thai patron and the bartender, Brown assisted in breaking up the scuffle. The man, however, returned later in the evening with a gun.
“The guy came back, he opened fire — five shots. I was hit along with two others and taken to hospital… Just in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Brown told CBC News.
Brown was left paralyzed from the waist down following the shooting, and Thai doctors have told him that they don’t know if he’ll ever walk again.
Currently, the shooter’s family is paying for Brown’s medical expenses, but the bills are starting to pile up. Additionally, he’s not sure what will be covered when he returns home.
When travelers leave B.C. for more than seven months, they have no medical coverage for the nearly three months it takes for B.C. Medical Services to kick back in.
The Canadian Victims Abroad fund is paying for Brown’s plane ticket home in December, and he hopes he will access to the services he needs to cope with his paralysis, Brown says.
Ben Glickman of Footprints Recruiting Inc., a firm that connects more than 1,000 Canadian teachers with jobs in Korea and Southeast Asia each year, says while Brown’s experience is unfortunate, it is not typical for the vast majority of globetrotters.
“I think for the most part, it is safe. In fact, a lot of these countries are safer than being at home, a lot of them have less crime and less weapons than you’d find in a typical North American city,” he says.
Glickman warns that all travellers and teachers abroad should make sure to have travellers insurance, register with the Canadian consulate and make sure family and friends know how to contact you.