Hope for Kasey

Chester native Kasey Crute, 18, a freshman at the University of Virginia, was building “eco-friendly” latrines in Panama during her Spring break when she suffered a paralyzing neck injury after diving into a pool of water on Thursday, March 10. There, the Matoaca High graduate remains in critical condition with two family members by her side – her mother, Sherri Thompson, and aunt, Tiffany King.

“This story is so devastating that it just breaks your heart,” said Rene Bickel, another aunt of Crute, who lives just down the street from Crute’s mother.   “…It’s a life-altering event for the family and we haven’t even started truly experiencing it because she’s not here.”

Crute’s mother, Sherri, was contacted after the accident first occurred and flew as quickly as possible to Panama after obtaining an expedited passport with the help of her husband, Michael Thompson. For the last few weeks she has remained by her daughter’s side, staying in contact with the family in Chester on a daily basis. Crute’s father, Tony Crute, who had arrived the night after the accident, has since returned to the states for work obligations.

According to Bickel, the process of getting Crute to the states for evaluation has been a “nightmare” and a prospective date for her return is uncertain, as Panamanian officials and health practitioners forbid her departure from the country due to the extent of her injuries. UVA is now heavily involved in communication with Panama and will be using Angel Flight to transport Crute back to the states once her injuries stabilize.

“Basically we work all day and come here and it’s like a command center,” said David Bickel, husband to Rene Bickel. “…It’s been very stressful, and of course you go through that anger phase. … I think it’s so unbelievable and I think there’s going to be another wave of emotion when she gets home.”

While the news is more than heart-breaking for the family to bare, Tyler Bickel, 12, Crute’s cousin and son of the Bickels, takes a pragmatic, even proactive approach to dealing with this life-changing event; his mother, Bickel, said, “I was having a lot of issues just dealing with it and he’s like, ‘Mom, we just really need to focus on how we can help her now’”.

They then started the Kasey Crute Assistance Fund to raise money to combat the future family expenses that will likely surface from the accident in Panama. Information regarding bother her personal story and the fund can be found at http://www.hope2kc.org/index.html, Information can be found regarding both her personal story and the fund.

The family is also asking people to donate items that could benefit Crute’s family and her transition once she arrives home: wheelchairs, vans, etc. Anyone interested in helping can contact the Bickel’s home at 804-530-5252 or email at bickelis@comcast.net. They are open to any insights or stories from families that have dealt with a similar occurrence and welcome advice on the matter.

At present, the entire family is looking forward to her return home so that it may bring even a little light to the darkness.

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