Career hopes dashed

A former lifeguard in Castlegar was awarded almost $500,000 after a 2012 car crash left her unable to work as a lifeguard again, or pursue her desired career as a paramedic.

On July 31, 2012, Kailee Ross, 30-years-old at the time, was driving her Ford Expedition on Highway 22 near Castlegar with her two-year-old son, when Daniel Dupuis, driving towards her, pulled out to pass several vehicles.

The ill-timed pass forced Ross to brake sharply and swerve into the ditch to avoid a head-on collision.

The crash, which Dupuis admitted liability for, left Ross with a soft tissue injury to her neck and back, leaving her with pain to this day.

In 2014, she received surgery on her shoulder for a torn rotator cuff that stemmed from the crash.

In a recent decision, Justice Gary Weatherill determined how the crash impacted Ross financially.

Ross, a mother of two, had worked as a lifeguard for the Central Kootenay Regional District Recreational Department since 2002. The work is highly physical, and requires meeting "rigorous standards” set by the National Lifeguard Society, according to Weatherill.

Despite several attempts to get her job back following the accident, her medical condition left her unable to perform the necessary duties. In August 2015, her union found her a job as a part-time cashier at the CKRD’s landfill operations, a job she didn't enjoy.

While Ross was a very active person before the crash, she is now unable to ski, lift heavy weights, do a front or back crawl while swimming, throw a ball or perform housekeeping duties without experiencing pain.

Her husband described her as a “totally different person.”

Before the crash, Ross also had plans to become a paramedic once her children were old enough to be on their own.

“Both her mother and her sister-in-law ... were paramedics and she was very interested in following their career,” Justice Weatherill wrote in his judgement.

“She has had to learn to accept that she can no longer work as a lifeguard and will never become a paramedic.”

Ross now works as a sales and service co-ordinator for a Castlegar home medical equipment company.

Justice Weatherill ruled Ross is entitled to $457,570, the bulk of which comes from $200,000 in loss of future earnings and $120,000 from past income loss. 

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