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‘I need help’: B.C. woman hailed a hero at risk of losing her home due to injuries

Click to play video: 'Chilliwack woman hurt trying to save man’s life now facing homelessness'
Chilliwack woman hurt trying to save man’s life now facing homelessness
A Chilliwack woman who was hailed as a hero for trying to save a man's life is now questioning whether she did the right thing. Her efforts have left her facing homelessness. As Grace Ke reports, Julie Callaghan hopes to reach a settlement with the major company that was involved in the incident – Jan 10, 2024

A Chilliwack, B.C., woman who was called a hero for trying to save a man’s life is now facing some of the toughest moments of her life.

Julie Callaghan said she is now facing the threat of losing her home and is still hoping to settle with the Canadian railway involved in the incident.

Callaghan suffered life-altering injuries in May 2018 when she tried to rescue a man in a wheelchair who was stuck on a railway crossing.

Matthew Jarvis was trying to cross the train tracks in his electric wheelchair when one of the wheels became stuck. Callaghan and another woman tried to dislodge the chair but were unsuccessful and Jarvis was struck and killed. The women got out of the way as the train approached, but the CN freight train caught her hand.

Initially, when she left the hospital, she was told she had broken bones. However, as time passed, it became clear her injuries were much more severe. Callaghan now lives with a motor dysfunction — the result of a crippling disease in her nervous system. Three fingers on her right hand are practically dead. She doesn’t have any joint movement in her knuckles.

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“I guess sometimes I wonder if I did the right thing because it’s cost me so much,” Callaghan told Global News.

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“It’s cost me so much. It cost my life, basically. I may still be standing here but my life is nothing close to what it was. Nothing close.”

A GoFundMe has now been set up to raise money for Callaghan.

Click to play video: 'Family of Chilliwack train victim calls for changes'
Family of Chilliwack train victim calls for changes

About a year after the incident Callaghan sued CN Rail, seeking compensation for pain and suffering, past and future wage loss, cost of future care and out-of-pocket expenses.

“The Transportation Safety Board indicated the person driving the train did not apply the brakes until seven seconds post-impact and so that is a primary aspect of the negligence,” lawyer Luke Zacharias with Zacharias Vickers LLP said.

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CN Rail is not commenting on the matter but denied any wrongdoing and suggests the plaintiff was negligent, including that Callaghan failed to obey the instructions of a traffic control device and failed to yield to an approaching train.

Click to play video: 'B.C. woman needs help after heroic attempt to save disabled man'
B.C. woman needs help after heroic attempt to save disabled man

Callaghan said with her physical and psychological injuries she will never be able to work again. She said her marriage broke down because of the accident and soon she will be off her former husband’s medical insurance.

“I’ve accessed the food bank, I’ve accessed the free stores, I’ve accessed free counselling services,” she said.

“I’ve never been put in that position before and I’ve become pretty resourceful. But it’s not comfortable, it’s embarrassing. This is embarrassing, putting it out there, but I need help.”

A tentative trial date has been set for March 2025 but the foreclosure of Callagahan’s home is imminent.

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