After Dad’s freak accident, the community chips in, and her father may yet be able to give her away Elaine Trail had all the details of her summer wedding planned: the dress, the venue, the cake.
But the 20-year-old couldn’t plan for the misfortune her family would face after a freak accident in September nearly killed her father, Mark Trail.
The 45-year-old father of three was in a coma for three weeks, and doctors said there was a 99 percent chance that if he woke up, he would be in a vegetative state.
While the family focused its attention and prayers on Mark Trail, a Boise woman who barely knew the Trails decided to make sure Elaine Trail gets the wedding she hoped for.
“I’ve been making all these calls to see what people can do at cost or for free,” said Lindy English, a Boise photographer.
The manager of the Rose Room in Boise is offering the venue for free for the wedding reception. And VCI Audio Entertainment in Boise is providing DJ services at a reduced rate.
“My dad was a quadriplegic in a wheelchair for 21 years. I understand what it’s like to grow up with budget issues and to want to give the best to your children,” VCI owner Vince Cavanagh said. His dad fell off a ladder at the age of 32.
Mark Trail was working on a tank filled with aluminum roof paint in the back of his truck outside his home on Sept. 25. He was on his way to Montana to do some house painting and roof work.
Family members believe he was cleaning or changing a filter in the tank, leaning into the tank up to his waist. He panicked when he realized he couldn’t pull his head out.
The only person home was his youngest daughter, Nellie, 18, who couldn’t budge her 230-pound father. Putting a bucket under his feet for leverage didn’t help. His family believes his belt got hung up on the edge of the lid of the tank.
The lack of oxygen and chemical fumes soon overwhelmed him, and he fell unconscious and limp. Nellie called 911.
Emergency personnel had to work hard to get Trail out of the tank.
“It took four or five people pulling on him to get him out,” said Harry Eccard, deputy director of Ada County Paramedics.
Trail’s family said they had to cut Mark’s belt to get him unstuck.
Trail was clinically dead – not breathing on his own and with no pulse – for at least 13 minutes. That’s how long it was from the time paramedics arrived until his heart started beating on its own and he resumed breathing.
He suffered serious brain injury due to lack of oxygen.
DOCTOR: ‘WE CAN’T PREDICT A MIRACLE’
Doctors gave Trail’s wife, Rhonda, little hope for her husband’s recovery. But she kept him on life support.
“The majority of the time, people don’t wake up out of a coma and live happily ever after,” said Dr. Jim Herrold, a Boise neurologist and Trail’s current doctor.
“We try to be honest and fair and give it to people straight. We can’t predict a miracle,” Herrold said. He didn’t use the word “miracle” to describe Trail’s case.
Trail went home from the hospital on Dec. 31 but goes to physical therapy four days a week to learn to walk and regain other motor skills. He’s working to improve his short-term memory, which is poor.
Trail has long-term memory, but details get jumbled. He wakes up nearly every morning thinking it’s Christmas and sometimes thinks he lives in Australia.
MEDICAL BILLS, WEDDING BELLS
Mark Trail’s medical insurance will cover 80 percent of the hospital expenses, but there will be thousands left for the family to pay. His insurance doesn’t cover any physical therapy, his wife said.
That’s why Elaine Trail’s plans for a summer wedding at Tamarack appeared to have fallen by the wayside.
Some people encouraged Elaine to elope with fiance Justin Mullins, but her greatest hope now is that her father can walk her down the aisle May 22.
“He knows I’m getting married. … He’ll say, ‘So when are you getting hitched, daughter?'” Elaine said.
The Trail family is grateful for the unsolicited assistance provided by English and the other wedding vendors.
On Friday, English said she brought a wedding planning team into the mix. Chic Events & Planning has offered its services gratis.
The bride-to-be is elated that her dad will be at the wedding.
“I feel lucky because, basically, he was dead, and I feel lucky to have him here,” she said. “I feel, like, really, really, really lucky.”
Katy Moeller: 377-6413