North

Paralyzed snowmobiler: 'I want to ride again'

A 19-year-old snowmobile jumper who permanently lost the use of his legs in a crash last month in the eastern U.S said he refuses to allow his injury to end his active life.

A Canadian competitive snowmobile jumper who permanently lost the use of his legs in a crash last month in the eastern U.S said he refuses to allow his injury to end his active life.

Darryl Tait, 19, said he is getting stronger and looking forward to returning home to the Yukon in a few months from Vancouver General Hospital.

"For sure, I'm getting back on my machine and going riding with my friends again. We're going to come up with something to do it, and I can't wait," Tait told CBC News in an interview at the hospital.

Spinal cord severed

Tait was jumping his snowmobile at the New Hampshire Grass Drags on Oct. 11 when he decided to impress the crowd with a backflip.

But Tait and his machine crashed into the ground. His many internal injuries included a severed spinal cord. 

He has accepted he won't walk again and has already begun looking into how he's going to get around despite his injury.

"I want to be independent. I don't want to have to depend on other people for the rest of my life," he said.

"I have my arms, still, and … from my chest down there's no sensations, so it's going to be interesting. But I'm ready for it, and looking at videos on YouTube on what people can still do with these injuries, it's not going to slow you down, [you] just go around things differently."

Tait said he wants to push past his limitations and try "to conquer new things and make people go, 'Wow, I couldn't do that even with my legs.'

"That's what I look forward to do," he said.

Get-well cards, posters

He said the support of friends and family in Yellowknife, Atlin, Whitehorse and beyond have made a big difference.

Tait's hospital room is adorned with many cards and posters from people across northern Canada, including a large poster from his old high school friends in Yellowknife.

"It's really helpful. I look around my room and I have so much support with family and friends, all the cards and get-well posters," he said.

"Just being from the North, it's so small and tight, it's just a giant family.

"It really helps me to look forward because if I didn't have that it would be pretty hard."

His parents, Barb and Jamie Tait, said that support, along with Darryl's positive attitude, fills them with optimism.

"Darryl's going to do stuff that we never ever thought possible, and it's going to be good," his mother Barb said.

"It's going to be a different life for us, but we're going to take it on and we'll have as much fun as we had in the past, I'm sure," said his father, Jamie Tait.

Tait expects to move to the GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre in Vancouver within a week or two. He could be back in the Yukon in a few months.

With files from Dave Croft

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