British national in coma after breaking neck in freak balcony plunge in St. Martin
By Nelson A. King
A British man is in a coma after breaking his neck in a freak balcony plunge on the Dutch Caribbean island of St. Martin, the British Daily Mail reported on Monday.
Kurt Russell, originally from Corringham, Essex, also fractured his skull and suffered a bleed on his brain after falling from a three-story building.
The 32-year-old father of two is now in an induced coma because of the severity of his injuries, and his sister has launched an appeal to help pay for his treatment, according to the Mail.
It said Russell was helping a friend with a house move on Dec. 27 when he fell off the edge of a balcony, according to his sister Tyla, 28.
“He grabbed the handrail, and it came away with him, as he fell straight to the floor,” she said.
Although Russell was initially provided medical treatment, his lack of health insurance led to the hospital declining to provide additional care until funds could be provided, the Mail said, adding that the situation forced his family back home to borrow from friends and credit card companies.
After the cash was wired to St. Martin, Russell was airlifted to the Cayman Islands for further surgery on Dec. 30, the Mail said.
“My mum has borrowed money from everyone,” said Tyla Russell. “It’s all on credit cards and lent from people — he had already spent 48 hours just waiting.”
But doctors have warned her and her family that further money will be required after Russell comes out of theatre, the Mail said.
In an attempt to make a dent into treatment costs, Tyla decided to set up a Just Giving fundraising page.
She hopes to be able to raise the initial amount borrowed by the family and is urging the public to help them during this tough time, according to the Mail.
It said Russell, who splits his time between St. Martin and the United Kingdom, initially traveled to the island 10 years ago to work on fishing boats taking tourists on trips.
Following the devastating impact of Hurricane Irma at the end of the summer, he began to volunteer as a construction worker helping to rebuild the island, the Mail said.
Tyla believes that the island’s lack of steady jobs, combined with her brother’s going back to visit his children, who live with their mother in Cambridge, contributed to his decision not to purchase medical insurance, according to the Mail.
“He loves his family and kids; they mean the world to him,” Tyla said. “He loves his fishing; it’s his pride and joy. He’s one of a kind.”
Recalling the moment she discovered her brother had been horrifically injured, Tyla said: “I was devastated, absolutely devastated. My dad said he felt broken, my mum is so numb — it’s just awful.”