'She's in a coma': Elgin County woman remains in hospital after collision with farm vehicle

Jess Reimer's family is by her side at London Health Sciences Centre, Victoria Campus, as she recovers from a devastating crash.

"We're spending our days, for the most part in the hospital just waiting for any news and updates," said Darren Chandler, Reimer's brother, outside a London, Ont. motel where he has been staying since her crash on Sept. 20.

"We've been spending our nights here just so that we can be close and just trying to be ready for whatever happens,” Chandler said. “She's in a medically-induced coma because they want to keep her body from working too hard right now."

Reimer, who will turn 28 Wednesday, was driving with her one-month-old daughter Aria in Elgin County when she collided with a grain truck.

"She suffered a severe traumatic brain injury and significant brain damage," her friend Katie Barber wrote in an online fundraiser. "She also broke her ankle, tibia and femur, as well as her wrist. She is in critical [condition] and not yet stable condition and remains intubated. She is now being closely monitored in the Critical Care Trauma Centre (CCTC) where she will be for some time.”

Aria was initially listed in critical condition, but has since been released from hospital.

"We're really happy that Aria got out," says Chandler. "Three days after it was pretty serious with some cerebral contusions. To get out in three days, it's got to be some kind of miracle right?"

Collisions involving farm vehicles are common in Ontario, especially in the farm belt of southwestern Ontario.

The Ontario Federation of Agriculture (OFA) says there have been 1,800 reported incidents in the past five years, resulting in 240 injuries.

"My son-in-law was the victim of one of those accidents up on Highway 7 a few years ago,” said Crispin Colvin, an OFA director and cash-crop farmer from Middlesex County.

"It's impacted his entire family. He hasn't been able to go back to work because he was thrown from the tractor and spent a considerable amount of time in hospital and has some serious injuries as a result. So I know only too well, the impact it has on families,” said Colvin.

Chandler has not been told what caused his sister's crash, but says she was driving in the direction of the sun at sunset.

"It's just a combination of, perhaps, not paying attention, the sun in somebody’s eyes, or just all of a sudden coming up on something that you didn't realize was going to slowly and as heavily laden, such as farm wagons," says Colvin. "It happens quickly, and it changes everyone's life in an instant."

Her husband Josh, a drywaller, has been by Jess' side since the accident so he is unable to work to support his three daughters, all under the age of three.

"We're not sure how long Jess will be in the hospital or really what's going to happen," says Chandler.

"It's really up in the air as far as everybody being able to take care of themselves. So we just want to help out as much as we can."

Barber, who is the godmother to Reimer's children, says the family will need help to pay for hotels, transportation, food and support during the weeks to come.

"Her recovery will take several months (at least) and they will need help," says Barber. "All money raised will go directly to the Reimer family to supplement their lost income and to support Jess and Aria's long road to recovery.”