Raising funds for Jarrad
One thing Jarrad Plaskett, 33, always loved was being out in nature. So much so, that he changed jobs, taking time off from his career in auto body repair in favor of working outdoors with Ironbark Arborists. But everything changed on Nov. 8, when a freak accident left Jarrad fighting for his life.
Now friends, family and the community that reared him are coming together for a fundraiser to ensure Jarrad has what he needs to get back to life as usual. Set for Saturday, Jan. 12, from 3 to 9 p.m. at the Sonoma Valley Moose Lodge, the day will include live music from JoyRide, BackTrax and Train Wreck Junction; a spaghetti dinner, a silent auction, door prizes and other activities. Tickets cost $20 and can be purchased at the door, or in advance at Pharmaca or WestAmerica Bank.
Thursday, Nov. 8, began like any usual workday, when Jarrad was assigned to assist on the removal of a tree on Lovall Valley Court. As the tree was being lifted via crane, it snapped in half, sending a massive section of wood hurtling to the ground, directly on top of Jarrad. Rescue officials estimated it weighed hundreds of pounds, if not more.
“No one was sure he was going to make it,” said Justin Plaskett, Jarrad’s younger brother.
Jarrad was rushed to Queen of the Valley Hospital in Napa, where he spent a few hours before being airlifted to John Muir Medical Center in Walnut Creek in critical condition. Doctors discovered his spinal cord was severly damaged in his lower back and he was induced into a coma to stabalize his injuries. On day six, he went through an eight-hour surgery to repair the damage to his spine, followed by a week’s stay in the intensive care unit. He was later transferred to California Pacific Medical Center to begin physical rehabilitation, which he’ll need for at least the next year.
“He’s staying positive, considering what’s happened,” Justin said.
Jarrad was released on Dec. 19, after spending nearly seven weeks in the hospital. Medical professionals were amazed at his recovery, having originally told the family he could be hospitalized for up to four months.
“He was determined to get out of that hospital,” said Lachele Plaskett, Jarrad’s sister-in-law.
Since returning home, Jarrad has maintained a low-profile, preferring to just spend time with close friends and family as he recovers. His mother has taken a leave from work to care for him. He likely won’t attend the Jan. 12 fundraiser, which takes place two days before his 34th birthday, but much of his family will be there in his place.
Proceeds from the fundraiser will go into the Jarrad Plaskett Fund at Bank of America, to be used for future expenses. Currently, all of Jarrad’s medical expenses have been covered, but the family said there is pending litigation that may affect his coverage. On advice of legal counsel, the family declined to discuss the expected case.
“My hands are kind of tied, there’s not much I can say publically,” Justin explained.
California’s workers compensation laws require employers to cover medical expenses as well as temporary or permanent disability benefits via their insurance policy. But those benefits are only extended to employees, not contract workers. Ironbark Arborists did not return a phone call inquiring about what type of employee Jarrad was.
Peter Melton, a spokesman for the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) said his office investigates anytime a workplace accident leads to serious injury or death. Inspectors were out within days of the accident to interview witnesses and meet with the employer, but it could be months before they file their report.
“There’s a lot of safety procedures, we’ll find out if those procedures were followed, or not,” Melton said.
Melton said if a business is found out of compliance with safety codes, the employer could be cited and fined. In its entire history, Ironbark Arborists has never been cited for a workplace violation, according to the U.S. Department of Labor and the Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Lachele said since the family isn’t guaranteed his medical expenses will be covered, the money in the trust will be collected as a safety net. But Justin said there is one item Jarrad is hoping to get his hands on: a four-wheel drive, motorized wheelchair to help him get back to the great outdoors.
“He’s an avid duck hunter,” Justin said. “This would allow him to get out to hunt.”
Lachele added, “With the fundraiser, we’re just trying to get him back to where he was before the accident.”
Organized by Valley of the Mooneyhan Productions and the Native Sons of the Golden West Parlor #111, event officials are looking for donations of items and gift certificates for the silent auction at the fundraiser. To donate, or for more details about the event, call Katie at 486-5641 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.