Fall off horse puts woman in coma, prompts family to warn others about need for helmets
'She usually would wear a helmet but this time, for whatever reason, she didn't feel it was necessary'
The family of a young Winnipeg woman who remains in a coma after falling off her horse on the weekend is speaking out about the importance of wearing a helmet.
Rebecca Fentum-Jones, 22, wasn't wearing a helmet when she was thrown from her horse Sunday.
"She usually would wear a helmet but this time, for whatever reason, she didn't feel it was necessary," Fentum-Jones' boyfriend, Richie Rodgers told CBC News.
"It's something you do a thousand times — it doesn't seem like a big deal — but all it really takes is just that one instance like this one where a bunch of things went wrong at the same time.
"Now we're just hoping she's going to wake up."
Rodgers says Fentum-Jones went out on a leisurely trail ride outside of the city Sunday and was crossing a highway on her way home when the horse stumbled coming out of a ditch, causing his girlfriend to fall from the horse.
She hit the right side of her head on the pavement and was rushed to the Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg by air ambulance where she remains in a coma.
Rodgers and her family have been by her side since Sunday.
"It's very hard for all of us," he said. "It's going to affect the rest of Rebecca's life, it's going to affect the rest of our lives."
Rodgers says he and the family have had tremendous support from friends and staff at HSC.
Fentum-Jones' condition has improved, said Rodgers — she's now listed in stable condition — but she remains on life support and hospital staff aren't able to say exactly how the accident will affect her until she comes out of the coma.
Doctors can't even say for sure that she will wake up.
"It's just a complete and utter unknown — the brain is just like that — we just don't know until she wakes up," said Rodgers.
"It's literally just hour-by-hour, day-by-day doing the best we can to support Rebecca through this and be there for her as much as we can and hope and pray that she's going to wake up."
He said doctors continue to monitor the pressure in Fentum-Jones' skull, and those numbers have been remaining steady, which is a good sign.
Doctors are also draining fluid from her skull at a slower rate and the life support equipment she's on is doing less of the work needed to keep her alive than right after the accident.
While that's all promising, Rodgers says hospital staff have warned family not to read too much into anything.
"They've been very clear about how tricky the situation is," he said.
Family stresses safety
Rodgers says Fentum-Jones has been around horses her whole life.
Her grandmother raised horses and her mother used to be a jockey, and during university Fentum-Jones started working as a groom at Assiniboia Downs.
After school she decided to pursue a career with horses, getting a job as a barn manager at a ranch and teaching children how to ride.
"It's always been something that Rebecca's loved," he said.
Rodgers says Fentum-Jones would rarely ride without a helmet and is hopeful others will hear her story and think twice before heading out for a ride — no matter the distance — without the protective gear.
"If Rebecca had have been wearing a helmet in this instance, we have been told, due to where the injury is, then we may not even be here," he said.
"If we can stop another family or another person from going through this similar situation then something positive can come out of this."
With files from Rignam Wangkhang