Cyclist still recovering from injuries

Saanich man still struggles to walk four months after being dragged nearly half a kilometre by a semi-trailer

Lada Cumpelik sits with Diane Caetano in their Goward Road home near Prospect Lake. Cumpelik is still recovering from being dragged under a moving truck for nearly half a kilometre.

It’s been four months since a near-death experience changed the life of Saanich’s Lada Cumpelik and his wife Diane Caetano.

Cumpelik, 37, was cycling to work along West Saanich Road at about 6:40 a.m. when he slid underneath a right turning semi-trailer. Without time to think, and no time to get out from under the moving tractor truck, Cumpelik clung to the undercarriage and hung on while scraping the pavement for 473 metres. Only then did a dramatic turn of events lead to his release.

Locals dubbed it the “Indiana Jones cycling accident” but it was only a matter of survival, Cumpelik said at the time.

“People who called it Indiana Jones then should see the Indiana Jones now,” said Caetano last week. “He’s still in the wheelchair, still struggling to walk.”

Cumpelik is nowhere near ready to return to his job with Saanich parks and recreation, though he hopes to be walking with the help of a cane by summer. He’s healed from shoulder surgery, as well as major road rash to his backside, arms and legs. Following the accident he soon learned walking wasn’t going to come easily. Even playing video games took time to master as he had lost a lot of dexterity, though mostly it’s his legs, which continue to suffer intense spasms.

At home he uses a wheelchair to get around, while in public he uses a walker.

“You notice in public how often other males, younger or similar aged, look at [Cumpelik],” Caetano said, “you can sense their curiosity.”

For now, Cumpelik’s foreseeable future is filled with physiotherapy and rehab. HIs daily workouts include arm exercises using elastics to rebuild strength and dexterity, as well as time spent on a stationary recumbent cycling machine.

“It’s a full-time job and you have to stay positive,” Cumpelik said. “You can’t let the frustration get to you.”

He’ll need additional surgery on his right shoulder as the movement of his right arm is at about half of what it was before his initial surgery following the incident. He can’t raise his arm past his shoulder. It might be that one of the screws installed into the shoulder is too long, but whatever it is, the doctor believes a surgeon might be able to fix it upon opening it up, he said.

Making matters worse, this winter is the first in 18 seasons that Cumpelik hasn’t had a season’s pass to Mount Washington, ironic as it’s the first good ski season in years.

“It’s almost a blessing that the accident came just before winter, a time when it’s dark, you want to stay in a bit more and watch TV anyways,” Caetano said.

When Cumpelik does leave the house, it’s usually to visit the physiotherapist, which he gets to thanks to much relied on support from his father.

The support from friends and family has been tremendous. Cumpelik’s parents, who still live down the road, have been “incredible.” Caetano’s parents live out of town but happened to have been visiting in early September and extended their stay at the time. Longtime friends now call more regularly to check in. Other friends visited to clean the gutters and cut the lawn.

And well wishes from strangers also come in – mostly from run-ins with locals.

“Once people find out what happened to Lada, they remember it, there is a lot of “Oh, you’re that guy,” Caetano said.

Cumpelik said he will likely get back on a bike at some point, though he’ll need a new one. He also looks forward to a possible meet up with the paramedics and firefighters who responded to the scene, and with the witness who tracked down the tractor-trailer and told him to pull over, saving Cumpelik’s life.


And, perhaps most of all, the couple would eventually like to finally take the vacation they never got to take. The two were set to fly to Mexico on Sept. 27, a delayed honeymoon on the first anniversary of their marriage.



Just Posted

Victoria resident faces discrimination from BC Transit since transitioning to a wheelchair

Daniel Sands says they are often not allowed on buses, even when there is room

Canada Post carrier seriously injured in Saanich dog attack

The employee was bitten on the hand and arm

North Saanich woman arrested after police pursuit, alleged abduction at elementary school

Two police officers were injured and one police vehicle damaged

Single dad reaches out to Greater Victoria community to help kids celebrate Christmas

A young family was overwhelmed with the warm response from strangers

VIDEO: More air-passenger rights go into effect this weekend

The first set of passenger rights arrived in mid-July in Canada

Swoop airlines adds three destinations in 2020 – Victoria, Kamloops, San Diego

Low-fair subsidiary of WestJet Airlines brings new destinations in April 2020

POLL: Do you have a real or artificial Christmas tree?

The lights are up, holiday shoppers are bustling through the streets and… Continue reading

Navigating ‘fever phobia’: B.C. doctor gives tips on when a sick kid should get to the ER

Any temperature above 38 C is considered a fever, but not all cases warrant a trip to the hospital

Transportation Safety Board finishes work at B.C. plane crash site, investigation continues

Transport Canada provides information bulletin, family of victim releases statement

Wagon wheels can now be any size! B.C. community scraps 52 obsolete bylaws

They include an old bylaw regulating public morals

Suspect steals 150 pairs of cosmetic contacts from Nanaimo party supply store

Incident happened at Pattie’s Party Palace on Rutherford Road on Thursday

Indigenous mother wins $20,000 racial discrimination case against Vancouver police

Vancouver Police Board ordered to pay $20,000 and create Indigenous-sensitivity training

Greater Victoria wanted list for the week of Dec. 10

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

Most Read