Daniel Winston was working just his sixth shift as a swamper on an Emterra recycling truck when he fell off striking his head on the road.
He was brought to Chilliwack General Hospital Wednesday morning then quickly transferred to Royal Columbian Hospital where he underwent emergency surgery due to a brain bleed.
Two days later and Daniel was not conscious nor was he making purposeful movements or following directions, yet his new wife Catherine by his side remained positive.
“He’s still not responding to commands and is being assessed every hour but I’m so incredibly thankful he’s still alive,” she said later that day it happened.
By Thursday, Catherine said he was in the intensive care unit and still not conscious or responding to directions.
”Great news is he’s breathing on his own and is resting comfortably,” she told The Progress. “It’s too early to know how his recovery will play out. He’s not out of the woods yet and we appreciate people’s concerns and prayers. “
There was a large police presence Wednesday on Kipp Avenue between Corbould and Edward streets leading to many questions about what happened.
Witnesses posted on social media that they saw a man lying on the road at Corbould and Kipp.
“He was in very rough shape when they took him to hospital, and not moving at all,” one said.
Two Commercial Vehicle Safety and Enforcement (CVSE) were on the scene examining the truck.
Chilliwack RCMP media spokesperson Cpl. Mike Rail said soon after it happened that it was not a police incident, and that CVSE and WorkSafeBC were investigating.
Asked about the safety issue regarding swampers on garbage trucks, Catherine said he had only worked five prior shifts so had little history with the job. She added that she couldn’t comment anyway because the accident is still under investigation.
”I will say that the support and care from Emterra and the public has been humbling and we’re thankful.”
As for the rules for garbage trucks, WorkSafeBC guidelines say swampers must have a footboard to stand on or a platform to sit on, and hand-holds. They are also required to have safety belts, harness or other restraint “except where the worker is a swamper riding on the back of a garbage truck during short pickup runs at speeds of less than 20 km/h.”
As for Daniel, by Friday morning he was in a high acuity care unit. Catherine said he was restless and moaning a lot, likely because doctors cut back on pain medication in order to do a neurological exam.
On the bright side, he was completely breathing on his own and, as she put it, “looks more like himself.”
Often when someone is seriously injured, friends create GoFundMe pages to help out the family, but Catherine said that’s not for them.
“Work, [WorkSafeBC] and church/family will help if needed. Once he stabilizes I will go back to work. So much is unknown right now we literally take it hour by hour.”
Catherine did say she was surprised how many people seem to care about how he is doing.
”Especially strangers. It’s encouraging!”
Catherine’s positive attitude, despite these last few frightening days, comes through in her Facebook posts where she updates friends and family about Daniel’s condition. The two have been married for just nine months.
“Our faith is strong and will see us through. We’re on a marathon recovery, not a sprint.”
“Today is a new day!”