Kings County native Kenzie Markey, left, was injured in a skydiving accident in Arizona recently. Her friend, Kelly Richardson, has organized an online fundraiser to help Markey’s family with her medical expenses. - Submitted
Joe Markey received a startling phone call last week: his daughter, Kenzie Markey, had been in a skydiving accident in the United States.
The 32-year-old woman was in Arizona when the accident happened. She had already completed more than 20 jumps over five days – her father says she was “squeezing one last jump in before she had to fly home” a few hours later.
Although no one witnessed the accident, it’s believed she hit some turbulence, which threw her off course. Fortunately, an aircrew was training in the desert at the time and saw her land, getting her to hospital “in record time.” Markey said.
Her injuries include brain trauma, a broken femur, toe, pelvis and ribs, a collapsed lung, crushed nasal cavity and eye socket damage. Despite her traumatic injuries, she was conscious when she arrived at the hospital and has since undergone several surgeries to repair the damage.
“There were a couple of times when it was ‘We’ll just have to wait and see how she makes it through the night’,” says Markey, who lives in Harmony. “But she’s eating now, and she’s made unbelievable advances in the last week.”
Though her clarity comes and goes, Kenzie was coherent long enough to complain about the bland hospital food, a fact that gives her father a bit of a chuckle.
Kenzie’s mother and brother have already flown to Arizone to be with her, and Markey is anxiously waiting her return to Canada so he can join them. Citizenship concerns – Markey was born in Scotland, and still carries British citizenship – made it difficult for him to fly to Phoenix, so the family decided that it would be best for him to wait.
Although she currently lives in Brackendale, B.C., Kenzie grew up in the Annapolis Valley. Like Kenzie’s father, her mother, Sherry Mackenzie-Jennison of Kentville, still lives in the area.
Markey says that they’ve found a bed for Kenzie at Lions Gate Hospital in Vancouver – now it’s just a matter of getting her there. Until her lung condition stabilizes, she can’t be airlifted, and financing is also proving to be a bit of a problem for the family.
Markey says that the family needs to guarantee payment for the air ambulance in advance before they will transport her back to Canada. Originally, the family believed it would cost between $25,000 and $30,000 to fly her home, but have recently learned that the cost could actually be as much as $45,000.
That isn’t the only big cost: because skydiving is considered to be an extreme sport, insurance won’t cover her Arizona hospital bills.
“There’s a lot of fundraising going on. A friend of hers started a fundraiser connected to Facebook that’s doing pretty good. The local Valley Credit Unions are accepting donations in her name at any of the branches – being the Valley, we’d rather than do that than go on Facebook,” Markey joked. “We’re not backwoods, we’re just slow! But that’s taking off pretty good.”
The online fundraiser alone has already raised more than $5,000.
Adventurous from the start, Kenzie grew up riding dirt bikes and horses. She surfs and snowboards as well.
“She just tries to squeeze everything she can out of life; she’s very adventurous. Some people find her maybe a little too intense, but that’s just her way of taking on the world,” says Markey.
Her adventurous nature doesn’t stop at her hobbies; although she works as an electrician now, Kenzie used to repair pulley systems on ski lifts.
“She’s never been afraid of heights,” Markey laughs.
Markey is on the phone to Arizona daily for updates, eagerly awaiting the news that she’ll be able to come home. Although he is frustrated by the red tape surrounding the ordeal, he is confident that things will turn out well.
“It’s a long journey,” he says, “but she’ll make it.”