Community rallies around Welland woman hurt in crash

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When crash victim Sandra Douglas leaves medical care and returns to her Welland home, she’ll find immaculate gardens having been lovingly tended to by friends and family.

The 40-year-old continues to recover at Shaver Hotel Dieu Rehab Centre in St. Catharines following a harrowing May 28 hit-and-run at Southworth St. and Ontario Rd. that left her with injuries that included a broken collarbone, two broken ribs and a punctured lung, and three fractured vertebrae. She is still being monitored for brain injury.

A 57-year-old Welland man is charged with dangerous operation of a motor vehicle causing bodily harm and fail to stop at the scene of an accident.

Douglas lost her dogs in the four-vehicle crash, when the rear of her 2003 Toyota Echo was crumpled like an accordion. Both dogs were about six years old: Syressa, a border collie terrier mix, and Sasha, a great Pyrenees. Both were rescue dogs.

Just blocks from home, she had been on her way to the canal to walk her faithful canines.

It’s a tragic tale that weighs heavily on the minds of Douglas’s close-knit co-workers at Community Living St. Catharines’ Northwood House group home for adults with disabilities.

Paula Whittaker, who has worked with Douglas for several years, decided to rally family and friends for a garden makeover at the Bradley Ave. home Douglas moved into in March 2014 with partner Jack Musiala.

A memorial spot for Douglas’s dogs was created among the greenery.

“When something like this happens, you’re desperate for ways to help, Whittaker said Friday among a busy crew of volunteers that pulled metre-tall weeds among shrubbery and perennials, and cultivated a small plot of vegetables.

The garden reno, Whittaker said, “seemed like a good idea.”

“Sandra loves her gardens, she loves being outside.”

Also pitching in were Duncan’s children, Sydney, 8, and Evan, 17, and stepson Aiden, 11.

“When she gets back, she can relax,” Aiden said.

Stacy Maguire is hoping her older sister will be able to return home within the next week. Douglas was airlifted to Hamilton hospital after the crash, was returned to Welland hospital, and since June 15 has been recuperating at Shaver.

“This was supposed to be her summer project,” Maguire said of the gardens while choking back an impulse to cry. “Obviously, she can’t do it, so we’re here.”

Plants and mulch were donated to the friendly effort by Vermeer’s Garden Centre and Flower Shop and Botanix Rice Road Greenhouses.

Friends have also been supporting Douglas and her family through an online fundraising campaign at GoFundMe: “Help for Sandra and her Family.” Its goal of raising $5,000 to help offset expenses while she heals, including to afford child care, has already been broken.

But that’s not where the support ends.

Moved by Douglas’s tragedy, Welland and District Humane Society donated to her another rescue dog. The eight-month-old golden retriever shepherd mix is named Sylas, his name a nod to Syressa.

Article from Welland Tribune.

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