A 45-year-old woman says she is still having health problems from an injury sustained when a bus carrying workers to Mount Polley Mine rolled onto its side almost two years ago.
“I have head pressure, tension in my neck and back, and I have these episodes where I cannot move or talk and I slur,” Wendy Warttig said. “I’m fully alert, but my body shuts down. I know it’s happening, I just can’t stop it.”
Warttig was working temporarily as a haul truck driver and was one of 10 passengers on the bus Wednesday, July 24, 2014 when the bus hit the soft shoulder and landed on its side, about one kilometre up on the Bootjack Forest Service Road.
“I was sleeping when it happened,” Warttig recalled of the incident. “I was thrown onto the window and ended up with my back and butt resting on the overhead compartment.”
While Warttig was being examined later by a first aid attendant at the mine, she said her speech became slurred so she was put on a C-spine board and medivaced from the mine to Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops.
When X-rays didn’t reveal anything Warttig said she was told she could go home.
“I broke down,” Warttig said of that day. “I had no clothes, money or ID on me. My keys and everything were at the mine and my vehicle was parked at the Pioneer Complex in Williams Lake.”
Eventually a woman on Warttig’s crew drove to Kamloops and brought her home to Williams Lake.
Initially Warttig was covered by Worksafe BC for a soft tissue injury to her shoulder and back and a minor concussion, confirmed WorkSafe BC claims director Jennifer Leyen.
“She went through a number of months of treatment and attended one of our specialized treatment programs for assessing head injuries,” Leyen said. “By the time she was discharged from the program, where she’d been under the daily supervision of physicians and psychologists, Wendy was deemed fit to return to work.”
Unfortunately by then the mine had shut down because of the tailings breach in August 2014 and Warttig had no job to return to.
At that point, Leyen said, WorkSafe BC gave Warttig four extra weeks of benefits and then her claim came to a conclusion on March 29, 2015.
Wartigg has filed an appeal with the Worker’s Compensation Appeal Tribunal, and Leyen said the more medical evidence about the nature of her condition and how she would tie that back to her injury will help her with the appeal.
Meanwhile she is feeling desperate. Her EI will run out this month.
She finally got in to see her family doctor and a psychiatrist and said both are writing letters to the tribunal on her behalf to say her health problems stem from the accident.