Injuries in December crash worse than suspected

Mary Collett
Mary Collett

Lifelong Bonners Ferry resident Mary Collett suffered serious injuries December 6 in a two vehicle collision on Highway 95 in front of the Kootenai River Inn that left both vehicles in the Bonners Ferry City parking lot, Mary suffering several broken ribs, a fractured cheekbone and more, and at first it appeared she was healing nicely. But about a month and a half later, she began showing signs of aphasia, losing her ability to speak. Her children took her to Boundary Community Hospital and she was almost immediately rushed to Kootenai Health, where she underwent emergency surgery for a brain bleed.

Doctors told the family that Mary’s chance of survival was 50/50. Prone to strokes, long-term medication she’d been taking complicated her condition. She survived the first surgery, but a CT scan revealed she was still bleeding. Her odds of surviving a second brain surgery dropped to a dismal 25-percent, terribly low, but far greater than her odds without it.

Again, she survived, but she was left unable to work, her sole income Social Security, her pile of bills and expenses massive and still growing., Her road to recovery will be long and torturous, and it will never take her all the way back to where she was before that terrible crash, neither physically nor mentally.

Born in Bonners Ferry April 1, 1955, going through school here, raising her family. She was a cook in the Boundary Community Hospital Extended Care Facility for 17 years, delighting in fulfilling residents’ requests that made them feel at home; a slice of apple pie, a milkshake.

KRI crashHer children grown, Mary returned to school and earned her bachelor’s degree in social work in 2014, serving her internship at Head Start and volunteering at Second Chance, where her love for animals shone.

Her Northside home boasts a few happy and sassy hens, her pet rabbit and several cats, yet they don’t deter the many birds and squirrels that visit her feeders. She is a resilient woman, suffering loss and challenging times, yet always returning to the simple joys that make hers a happy life in spite of trying times, helping support her daughter when her granddaughter was born with an auto immune disorder, helping again when that dear child underwent chemotherapy for leukemia at age 12. After her mother died, she took care of her father, who had Parkinson’s, for six years until he died in 2009. She lost her husband in 2014.

She’s been through so much pain and grief, but her courage and strength persists. And still she worries about others before she lets others fret over her. Knowing her friend too well, Allison Sandelin didn’t talk to Mary … she went straight to Mary’s daughters to discuss turning to the community and setting up a GoFundMe account. The amount sought, $200,000, isn’t arbitrary. it’s what she’s been billed for the initial surgery, ambulance costs and early medical bills.

Collett has spent a lifetime helping others, and people like her are the hardest to help. You could meet her in the emergency room, holding her head in a basket, waving people around her … “Oh, goodness! No, no! You go first … I’m fine!”

To donate using GoFundMe, click here.

Those who prefer can mail their checks, made out to Mary Collett c/o 9B News, 6619 Kaniksu St., Room 19, Bonners Ferry, ID 83805.