Abbotsford veteran with PTSD recovering in hospital after being hit by truck
'There's a greater hand in what happened that day, and I'm very thankful for that'
A young veteran with PTSD is recovering in hospital after being hit by a truck while he was walking on the highway in search of gas.
"Anytime you get hit by a one-tonne truck, it's a setback," said Lowe.
"But I think the support that I've seen from my friends and colleagues, it's just given me more will to keep living and keep fighting for other veterans' rights."
John Lowe, 29, was diagnosed with an operational stress injury — a psychological condition resulting from having served with the Canadian Armed Forces in Afghanistan in 2009.
Since his diagnosis, Lowe has been an ardent supporter for other soldiers suffering from the same condition, joining fundraising and advocacy efforts with the group Wounded Warriors.
The night of Nov. 12, Lowe was driving home to Abbotsford from Langley, B.C. when the truck he was in ran out of gas. The vehicle, a loaner he was using because his own had been stolen, had a broken gas gauge.
Lowe says he had phoned his dad to come and help him, but given that it was a dark and rainy night and the car was pulled over on the 232nd Street on-ramp for Highway 1, he thought it best to get out of his predicament as soon as possible.
"I can't say for sure if it was the PTSD that night that made me upset, that made me go out and I wasn't focusing," said Lowe.
"All I can say is I think a lot of soldiers out there, a lot of guys, are walking with one hand tied behind their back."
'The next thing I knew I was on my back'
Lowe says he doesn't remember much from the accident — just that he was on his way to a gas station with his dog when a truck hit his left side.
"The next thing I knew I was on my back," he said.
When he came to, he had two main concerns: his dog, and his wedding ring. Both appeared to have gone missing during the accident.
The ring was pretty new. He had just gotten married to his wife, Natascha, on Aug. 29.
"It's been a roller coaster ride for us," he said.
Luckily, a Delta police officer with a service dog was able to locate the ring a few days later.
As for the dog, not only was she alive,Lowe said she had helped pull him out of harm's way after he fell to the ground.
When Lowe arrived at Royal Columbian Hospital in New Westminster, he was assessed with broken ribs, a broken arm, a ruptured spleen, and a bruised aorta.
"I'm not doing too bad. I've definitely got a long road to cover," he said. "It will take me a few months to get back into working shape, but I'm prepared to do it."
Friends raising funds for recovery
Part of that recovery will be helped along by online fundraising efforts set up by Lowe's friends to help the young couple get through this period financially — Lowe isn't working at the moment, and Natascha has had to take time off to help take care of him.
As of Thursday night, friends and local businesses have raised $7,860 out of a $10,000 goal.
Despite Lowe's predicament, news of the funding drive has him hopeful for the work he's done with Wounded Warriors — in particular, two fundraising bike rides across Europe that he has taken part in.
"I'd love to see [the fund] turn into something where we can raise enough money to go on that ride in early spring this year," said Lowe.
Lowe said he's thankful for all the help he's gotten from friends, emergency responders, and family. And he's grateful that his circumstances aren't any worse than they are.
"There's a greater hand in what happened that day, and I'm very thankful for that," he said.