Vermont Worker Paralyzed in 2017 Accident Hopes to Increase Accessibility for Disabled
FAIRFAX, VT. – November 1, 2018 - According to Mychamplainvalley.com a Vermont worker who was paralyzed in a 2017 accident after a windstorm is hoping to increase public accessibility for people with disabilities.*
In November 2017, a massive windstorm swept through Fairfax, Vermont. The storm downed limbs, trees, and power lines throughout Fairfax, and D. Jay Leach was part of the cleanup crew. Leach, 62, had maintained roads and plowed snow for the town for more than 35 years. He and two other workers were clearing debris from power lines on Fletcher Road, a short distance from Leach’s home, when something went seriously wrong.
Leach does not remember the workplace accident but thinks a tree swung around and struck him after he released the pressure on it from a power line. Leach suffered a broken sternum, broken back, and a brain bleed. He spent more than 60 days in the hospital and underwent several surgeries. He was released home paralyzed from the waist down.
Today, he is slowly regaining some sensation and movement in his back and legs, but he still has to use a wheelchair full-time. He has decided to use the situation to help raise awareness to issues facing people with disabilities and improve accessibility in his community.
“There’s a lot of places that put handicapped parking but don’t think about somebody having to get out of the van,” Leach said. “A lot of stores got too much stuff piled in the aisles, and there isn’t room to get around with a wheelchair.”
When Leach sees these types of problems, he speaks out. And he and his wife, Kathy, say their speaking out has helped effect change already in their town. At the end of the winter, Leach is checking into the Shepherd Center of Atlanta, Georgia, for continued therapy and hopes to gain more independence so he can keep spreading awareness and potentially return to work. Despite all that has happened to him, Leach still feels grateful and has no regrets.
“Would I do the same thing again today if I could walk?” he asked about the day of the accident. “Yeah, I would. That was my job.”
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