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Wife of Canadian man paralyzed after Barbados shooting hoping for 'medical miracle'
TORONTO -- The wife of a Canadian man who has been left paralyzed after being shot on vacation in Barbados is hoping for a “medical miracle.”
Ken Elliott, 65, from Calgary was injured during a home invasion on Feb. 22 in which two men, one with a machete and one with a gun, stormed the Christ Church holiday home where he was staying on the southern tip of the Caribbean island.
- Read more on CTV Calgary: Calgarian recovering in Florida hospital after being shot while on vacation in Barbados
Elliott and his brother Rob fought off the attackers, but Elliott was shot in the struggle and the bullet pierced his lung and became lodged in his spine.
His wife Linda Brooks described the terrifying ordeal at their rented holiday home on Wednesday with CTVNews.ca.
“Ken and his brother Robert are heroes, as I believe these men would have shot all of us,” she said.
Brooks described two men acting suspiciously around their property earlier in the evening. The group, including Elliott’s sister-in-law Mary, were playing a second game of Scrabble when Mary went outside for a cigarette and saw two men approach the house before they barged into the home.
“The angle of the bullet went down through his shoulder, through his lung and lodged in his spine,” Brooks said.
“When he fell down he said ‘I can’t feel my legs.’ He was turning grey and the police kept trying to keep him awake.”
‘I CAN'T FEEL MY LEGS’
Elliott was taken to a Barbadian emergency room before he and his wife Linda were flown to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, for further treatment.
The bullet has severed Elliott’s spine between his third and fourth vertebrae, leaving him paralyzed from the breast bone down, but he still has use of his arms.
Elliott underwent successful surgery on Wednesday to have a clot removed from his lungs.
“He’s (Elliott) very down and depressed because life is not going to be the same,” Brooks said.
“He’s been collecting parts from vintage cars and getting everything ready and that was going to be a hobby in retirement.”
Brooks is now praying for a medical breakthrough that may help her husband regain his movement.
“I don’t know what we’re going to do when we get home,” Brooks said.
“We have to move because our house has stairs and find somewhere with wheelchair access.”
A physiotherapist has shown Brooks exercises to help her husband gain some mobility in the hope he’ll be able to slide onto a chair.
Barbadian police are still investigating the brutal attack, Brooks said.
STOOD UP FOR OTHERS
“Ken has always been a man who stood up for what he believed in and who stood up for others,” wrote Landon Zabloski, a family friend who created a GoFundMe page to raise money for Elliott’s medical expenses.
“It is now in his time of need that we have to stand up for Ken and show him he has our support.”
Doctors are working on a plan to remove the bullet, Zabloski said.
"It's such a risky procedure to get it out, but they also want it out because they don't want it to cause infection, and the Barbados police want it for evidence," Zabloski told CTV News Calgary.
Elliott is a retired heavy duty mechanic and foreman with the city of Calgary, where he worked for 36 years.
"This guy was just a hard worker," said Zabloski. "He worked his whole life… and was a great leader to all of us, everyone is just heartbroken."
So far, nearly $17,000 has been raised on the GoFundMe page.
"I suspect there's going to be costs associated with getting them back home, modifying whatever home they end up, maybe modifying a vehicle," said Zabloski. "We just don't want them to have to think about that."
"Their lives are changed forever. He's got tubes coming out of all different directions. He's got use of his arms from what I understand but he's got a punctured lung. It's just a tough situation."
Barbados attorney general Dale Marshall condemned the home invasion shooting as a “callous” attack.
“This house was not in the tourist belt,” he said at a Labour party meeting and reported by Barbados Today.
“This house was in a residential community in Christ Church. Tourism is our bread and butter and Barbados cannot afford to have any negative references made about how safe or unsafe … Barbados has always been felt to be a safe place for visitors and this kind of callous conduct on the part of a few hooligans can threaten the livelihood and the lifeblood of our country.”
Barbados Today also reported comments from the High Commissioner of Canada in Barbados, Marie Legault.
“We are following the situation very closely and of course if we were to see an increase we would have to first have discussions with the Government of Barbados and then decide what we are going to do to ensure that our citizens are safe,” she told the website.
“In this case we are not taking any measures at the moment apart from making sure that our citizens are OK and communicating with the Barbados Government to understand what measures are being taken.”
Brooks praised the actions of embassy staff on the island.
Elliott is “one of the toughest men I have met,” Zabloski added, but “he needs every single ounce of support that we can give him.”
“Even if all you can afford is an encouraging comment, let’s all stand up for Ken as he has stood up for so many of us,” Zabloski said.
- With files from CTV News Calgary's Dave Dormer