Ontario woman who was eight months pregnant left paralyzed after horrific car crash

Jessi Rate, 30, was injured in a car accident in Lindsay, Ont. on April 20. (Facebook)

An Ontario woman who was eight months pregnant has been left paralyzed from the waist down and will likely never walk again after a horrific car crash earlier this week.

Jessi Rate was airlifted to Sunnybrook Hospital in Toronto after she was involved in a crash in Lindsay, near Highway 35 near River Road, on Tuesday morning. Her three-year-old son was also in the car when the crash occurred but he was not injured.

Her partner, Mason Hughes, told CTV News Toronto the 30-year-old now has a severed spinal cord, collapsed lung and needs a hip replacement. Investigators have told him they are still working to determine what caused the crash, which also left a man in his 50s with critical injuries. 

Hughes said Rate is still unconscious and is on a ventilator but doctors have performed an emergency C-section. He said she's still unaware their baby, who is a month premature, has been born or that her spinal cord has been severed. 

"They had to do an emergency C-section because they didn't think the baby would make it through all the surgeries she's going to go through," Hughes said. "The doctors are just so baffled how Jessi is so beat up but the baby is fine."

The baby, named Starlett, underwent surgery on Wednesday after both her lungs collapsed but is expected to survive, Hughes said.

Meanwhile, Rate has undergone surgery on her spinal cord and is expected to undergo another surgery for a collapsed lung and hip replacement on Thursday.

"I went to see Jessi and all she really did was squeeze my hand," Hughes said. "She opened her eyes for a second and kind of starred into space."

He said doctors have told him to be prepared that Rate will "more than likely never walk again."

"Everything in our lives is completely flipped upside down," Hughes said. "I'm completely devastated. My mind is all over the place. I feel sick, I can't eat."

Doctors have also told Hughes that Rates recovery process will be lengthy. Making matters worse, due to COVID-19 protocols at Sunnybrook Hospital, Hughes said he is only allowed to visit Rate in-person four times per week.

"They said she's going to be in there for a while because she's going to have to go through rehabilitation and recovery," he said. 

Hughes also said he will have to make significant renovations to their home to make it wheelchair accessible.

Since the crash, their close friend, Sarah Ritchie, has launched a GoFundMe page to help cover some of the costs of Rate's recovery. 

"Anyone who knows Jess, knows what a great person she is," Ritchie wrote. "She has a huge heart and is full of light and happiness."

"She is strong and resilient, but this young family will need help getting back on their feet."

The GoFundMe Page has raised more than $15,000 since it was launched a day ago.

"I hope she can be strong enough to pull through this," Hughes said. "She's a great mother, she’s really strong."