Friends and family of a Nova Scotia woman seriously injured in a skydiving accident in the U.S. earlier this month are trying to raise funds to pay for her “astronomical” medical bills.
Kenzie Markey, 32, lives in Pemberton, B.C., but is originally from Greenwood, N.S. She has skydived more than a hundred times in the past three years. During a recent trip with friends to Arizona, she made 20 jumps in less than a week.
“She’s adventurous to say the least, tries to squeeze as much of life out of existing as much as she can, and that takes her to doing all sorts of what a lot of people consider crazy things — skydiving, surfing, snowboarding in the alpine — anything that gives her a rush I guess,” her father Joe Markey told CBC’s Mainstreet.
But during her latest skydive in Arizona on April 6, something went terribly wrong. At some point during the jump, Kenzie Markey’s chute collapsed, sending her plummeting to the ground.
Her father said they know very little of what happened on Kenzie’s last jump.
“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.
Dust devils are sudden, circulating columns of air that suck up dust and resemble small tornadoes.
$500K medical bills
Kenzie Markey suffered severe injuries in the fall, including a collapsed lung, a broken femur, pelvis and eye socket, as well as brain swelling. She has undergone several surgeries so far and medical bills are mounting. According to a web post by her friend Kelley Richardson, Kenzie's medical bills total about $500,000 right now and continue to grow.
The family’s priority right now is getting Kenzie back to Canada.
“It’s just trying to arrange air transport, there’s talk of having to guarantee an enormous amount of money up front which is a little difficult at the moment. That figure keeps bouncing around. It started off at $25,000 to $30,000, now it’s being quoted as high as $45,000,” he said.
Markey said after being on disability for the past two years, that’s not a sum he can afford to pay.
He said the family thought Kenzie Markey was insured and a claim was opened following her accident, but he said the claim was dismissed as invalid since she suffered her injuries while performing extreme sports.
Kenzie Markey's friends have set up an online fundraising page to help pay her huge medical bills. To date, more than $7,400 of the $50,000 goal has been raised.
Donations can also be made at Credit Unions in the Annapolis Valley.
“It’s pretty fantastic. It gives me a lot of hope,” said Markey.
Since Joe Markey’s travel documents are not up to date, he can’t travel to see his daughter in the U.S. but he said he can’t wait to see Kenzie.
“I’m hoping I don’t fall apart. I’ll hug her as tight as I can and tell her how much everybody loves her and is rooting for her, and probably soon after that try to discuss not jumping out of airplanes any more,” he said.
Markey admits he’s not sure Kenzie will go for that.
“You don’t tell Kenzie what to do.”