A woman who was struck by a van and dragged for up to seven blocks on Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside will need up to a year in hospital and a lifetime of recovery, according to friends and family.
Desiree Evancio was hit around 12:30 a.m. Saturday morning on Hastings Street between Columbia and Jackson streets. Police believe the American driver may have been impaired.
Evancio’s sister Ashley Danh told Global News the 24-year-old was undergoing her fourth surgery on Wednesday, an eight-to-10 hour procedure to reconstruct her face.
“Their plan is to figure out a plan,” said Dahn.
“Her whole body is injured, injured to the point where she won’t be able to function properly, and she just won’t be the same person.”
Dahn said Evancio’s injuries are so severe, she hasn’t had the heart to tell her sister their extent yet.
“She doesn’t know. She’s conscious, she has memory. She can’t speak of course, her face is obviously not there… She just wants to know what happened and why.”
Dahn said the crash has devastated the entire family.
According to Dahn, Evancio had moved to B.C. from Ontario four years ago so the two sisters, who are close, could be together.
She’d picked up a job at the Shark Club in downtown Vancouver, where she’d found a community of friends.
Dahn said Evancio was out with friends the night of the collision, but was alone when it happened. She said she believes her sister may have been heading home at the time, but said so far no witnesses have come forward.
Now, she says her sister is facing a life-long recovery, and a series of invasive medical procedures in the short term.
She said bone and tissue needs to be cut and taken from her leg and formed in place of her cheek bone, while her jaw, which is broken in three places, will need a plate installed.
She said the damage to her sister’s face is so severe, surgeons are considering a rare and highly technical face transplant.
“Which I’ve never heard of before and didn’t know was possible. They’ve never performed a surgery like that before,” she said.
“It’s just something, because of the significance of her face and what’s missing, there’s nothing to work with.”
Dahn said her sister lost an eye and will also likely need a prosthetic, and that she will have little to no mobility in her right arm and left leg.
Supporters have started a fundraiser with a $1 million goal, out of concern the U.S. driver’s insurance may not cover her life-long medical and rehabilitation needs.
“US insurance policies can be as low as $20,000 dollars,” said Dahn.
“We are going to investigate and find out what his insurance if any covers but the likelihood is poor that we will receive enough endurance money to cover the many years of rehabilitation Desiree will need.”
According to Vancouver police, the driver was arrested after the crash but has been released pending the outcome of the investigation.
Hastings Street has a 30 kilometre per hour speed limit for the Downtown Eastside, which begins at Jackson Street.
However, residents and advocates for the area admit jaywalking is a problem in the neighbourhood.