Kenzie Markey, injured skydiving in Arizona, comes home to B.C.

Kenzie Markey's landed at the Vancouver airport Tuesday night and with daylight fading was loaded in a stretcher onto a waiting ambulance for transport to Lionsgate Hospital in North Vancouver, B.C.

Pemberton, B.C., woman faces more than $500K in U.S. medical bills

Kenzie Markey lands at Vancouver airport and is transferred to an ambulance following a three hour flight from Arizona. (Dan Burritt/CBC)

Kenzie Markey landed at the Vancouver airport Tuesday night and with daylight fading was loaded on a stretcher into a waiting ambulance for transport to Lions Gate Hospital in North Vancouver, B.C.

Markey's family was anxious to bring her home from Arizona, where her medical bills had climbed to more than $500,000 U.S. since her skydiving accident April 6.

None of us can afford to pay this. I don’t know how we’re gong to do it- Sherry Jennison, Kenzie's mother

Markey's medical ordeal began when her parachute collapsed while she was on a jump in Arizona. The veteran 32-year-old skydiver, who has more than 100 jumps under her belt, was sent plummeting to the ground. 

The accident left her with serious injuries, including swelling of the brain, a collapsed lung, a broken femur, pelvis and eye socket.

During a jump over Arizona April 6, Kenzie Markey's parachute collapsed, sending her plummeting to the ground. (Facebook)

Her mother Sherry Jennison says every day her daughter is a little better, but she has a long road ahead of her.

"She's talking. She had the brain trauma with the brain bleed so sometimes she makes sense and sometimes she doesn't make sense. But that's normal stuff and that will get better, she said."

Her father, Joe Markey, said they know very little of what happened.

“Nobody actually witnessed it happening. I did talk to a friend of hers from Los Angeles that was on his way home, out of the desert at the time, and he said that he had noticed a lot of dust devils picking up in the desert …and they figure she crossed paths with one of those and the turbulence collapsed her chute,” he said.

Jennison says the family owes more than $500,000 U.S. and doesn't know how it will pay.

"I have no idea, said Jennison. "She thought she had medical insurance through her Visa and through the American Skydiving Association."

Kenzie's mom Sherry Jennison says she had "no idea" how the family will pay more than $500,000 U.S. in medical bills. (CBC)

"None of us can afford to pay this. It’s tough it’s going to be really tough," she said. "I don’t know how we’re gong to do it." 

Jennison says Kenzie also had travel insurance.

"We saw the form. To me, it looked like she had a million dollars coverage, but when we called them, they said because it was skydiving she wouldn't be covered. It was in the fine print somewhere."

The B.C. Ministry of Health says the medical services plan will pay for the unexpected medical costs of B.C. residents anywhere in the world. However, it says excess costs, such as high doctor fees and flights, are the beneficiary's responsibility.

Former paramedic Malcolm Biddle, with Executive Air Ambulance, the company that brought Markey home, says he is contacting a Richmond, B.C. cost containment company.  He says he's confident he can get the family's medical bills reduced to about 40 percent of the original cost.

Kenzie's air ambulance trip home cost $24,500, which Biddle says was about half the cost of the highest bid for her transport..

A social media campaign started by Markey's friends has already raised more than $15,000.

With files from the CBCs Dan Burritt

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