A double date can sometimes lead to a broken heart, but for Abbotsford’s Kaitlyn Cassels, last Thursday’s (Oct. 22) outing with friends resulted in a broken back, one broken leg, a broken cheekbone, a compound leg fracture and a shattered left heel.
The 19-year-old fell 27 feet onto rocks in an area near the Agassiz-Rosedale Bridge. She will now have metal rods in her back and foot for the rest of her life after the fall.
Cassels, speaking to The News from her Vancouver General Hospital bed, explained it was her first time at the bridge and she simply made a bad misstep.
“I remember going on the left side of the bridge because underneath there is a pedestrian trail walkway for people to walk underneath the bridge,” she said, noting it was around 9 p.m. “That’s what I was walking towards when I fell. I was standing there talking to my friend and I just went to shuffle my feet and fix my positioning and then I was falling. It was dark so I guess I was literally standing on the edge.”
Cassels said she doesn’t remember hitting the rocks, but that she woke up a few moments later on the rocks and hearing her friends calling out to her. She noticed blood gushing from her foot and being unable to move her back.
“My back felt like it was locked,” she said. “I wasn’t able to move my back on my own and there was no way I was going to be able to get up. But I was able to move my arms, my legs, my head and everything else.”
Medical personnel later explained to Cassels that it’s likely that she landed almost entirely on her left foot and then her back crashed against the rocks violently and broke. Her right foot only has a sprain.
Thankfully, the people who Cassels was with that night handled the situation extremely well. One of her friends has a brother who is a 9-1-1 operator so he was called immediately for advice after the group calling 9-1-1 for assistance. They did not move Cassels and also elevated her foot to limit blood loss. She was then transported by hospital to VGH. She has already undergone surgery for her injuries.
Cassels, a 2019 Mission Secondary School grad, will have to remain in hospital for the next six weeks and it’s unlikely that she will be able to walk normally for at least two months. A family friend started the GoFundMe, which Cassels said will be a big help. She recently moved out on her own, works two jobs and has a new car. She will be unable to work for a while, so the money raised will be used to help her survive.
“I really wasn’t expecting that much at all,” she said of the GoFundMe, which has raised $9,633 so far. “It’s going to be so helpful because I don’t have an estimate for how long I’ll be off work.”
Her mother Heather Musika said Cassels was crying tears of joy after seeing the outpouring of support from the contributors.
While she’s unable to work, Cassels said she plans to develop her social media following. Her TikTok account formerly listed her bio as ‘i’m just the girl that fell off a bridge.’ It can be found at tiktok.com/@kaitlyncassels7.
She has collected over 13,000 likes on her account and has nearly 250 followers. She regularly posts humorous clips and dancing videos.
“My plan, as I’ve explained to my friends, is to become TikTok famous and then I can start making YouTube videos,” she said. “I feel like my life would be pretty entertaining for people to watch on YouTube.”
The GoFundMe, which now has a goal of $15,000, can be found at gofundme.com/f/help-kaitlyn-during-recovery.