Calgary

'It's been a hard year': Limo driver stabbed after being hit by recession, COVID-19, hailstorm

A week after he was stabbed, limo driver Kurt Thiessen still has the hospital bracelets on his wrist. He's worried he'll have to go back.

Kurt Thiessen, who says he was stabbed by his former roommate, has had 3 surgeries over the last week

Limo driver Kurt Thiessen's daughter comforts him in the hospital after he was stabbed on June 28. (Kurt Thiessen)

A week after he was stabbed, limo driver Kurt Thiessen still has the hospital bracelets on his wrist. He's worried he'll have to go back.

Three stab wounds, three surgeries and nine days later, the Calgary father is wondering when his string of bad luck will end. His limo business was hit hard by the recession, COVID-19 and a massive hail storm in mid-June that damaged tens of thousands of buildings and vehicles in Calgary.

"It's been a hard year," said Thiessen. "The hits just keep on coming, literally."

Then, last week, Thiessen, 41, nearly died after being stabbed in the early morning on June 28. The man responsible, says Thiessen, is a former tenant.

Police say they have identified a suspect but he has not yet been arrested.

Thiessen was stabbed three times last week and has since had three surgeries. (Meghan Grant/CBC)

A Saturday night grad celebration

It started out as a typical Saturday night for the limo driver, who's been in business for more than 15 years in Calgary. 

Thiessen spent about an hour driving a mother and daughter around town as a Grade 12 grad celebration respectful of COVID-19 rules.

Those are the types of runs he loves. 

"I get joy from giving other people joy, I enjoy making people happy, I enjoy making people smile," said Thiessen. "You get to be there for their weddings, for their grads — lifetime memories."

Thiessen gets so much joy, in fact, that he's perfected his iPhone photography skills and has a secret spot for photo shoots. He loves being asked to take photos for his clients.

'He had such a rage to him'

After driving the family around Saturday night, Thiessen parked outside a nightclub, hoping for impulse customers. 

Moments later, there was a knock on his window.

Thiessen recognized his former roommate, a man he says he'd rented a room to until recently.

Although Thiessen believed things had ended amicably, the man was yelling.

"He had such a rage to him," said Thiessen.

Thiessen attempted to shut down the encounter but when he tried to roll up his window, the man held it down.

'I didn't realize he had already struck'

Then, he spat on Thiessen.

"I got pretty pissed off," says the limo driver. "I got out of the limo, I confronted him, I swore at him.

"It escalated; he got right up in my face and I thought he was going to strike so I pushed him away from me but in that time, I didn't realize he had already struck."

Thiessen realized he was bleeding badly and yelled out for help. 

Staff from the club came to his side and performed first aid. Police and paramedics arrived quickly.

Thiessen worried he was dying

Thiessen says he felt his body go into shock.

"I was concerned that I may die."

He was loaded into an ambulance and taken immediately into emergency surgery once in hospital for a lacerated spleen and diaphragm.

Hours later, another surgery. 

He was released from hospital after four days but then taken by ambulance for another emergency surgery, this time for an embolism.

Lawyer Jonathan Denis, left, says his client Kurt Thiessen has a strong civil case against the man who stabbed him. (Meghan Grant/CBC)

Thiessen says the pain is intense and he's facing a six- to eight-week recovery period. His friend has started Kurt's Get Better Fund, a GoFundMe aimed at helping cover some of the costs associated with being off work.

Lawyer Jonathan Denis says he's looking into his client's eligibility under the province's victims of crime program.

"We are also launching a civil action for damages against the assailant once we get access to the police report," said Denis. "He has a very strong case against the assailant but there's always the issue of collectability."

Denis says he's been in contact with police so that they can pass along dash cam video from the limo, which should help with the investigation.

Thiessen is in a lot of pain but is wary of getting hooked to prescription drugs. 

He says having his daughters — ages nine and 14 — at his side is better therapy than any pain meds could provide. 

"My children are my life."

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