Lake Country men reunite four years after nearly fatal crash

Stanley Schibler was recovering from a recent liver transplant in his Beaver Lake Road cabin Aug. 31, 2014, when there was a knock on his door.

When he got to the door he was asked to help with a man injured when his quad went off the road and down a steep embankment. The man’s name, he later learned, was Jules Delorme.

“We did the best that we could for (Delorme) because his helmet had come off, and he was a long ways away from his quad,” Schibler said.

“It took two hours to get him airlifted out.”

Schibler, 62, visited Delorme in hospital once he was allowed. Delorme had suffered a broken spine, jaw and suffered a brain injury. He was completely immobile and recovering from a coma that lasted six months.

“We had been in touch by Facebook, but then he disappeared and I didn’t know what happened to (him),” Schibler said.

They lost touch for the next few years.

Then, by chance, the pair reconnected at CONNECT Communities in August, a brain injury clinic in Lake Country, which happens to be near Schibler’s house.

Delorme doesn’t remember much of the accident and didn’t recognize Schibler when he walked into his recovery room. But he had a surprise in store.

“I’m looking at (Delorme), and he stands up and he walks up to me and shakes my hand, and he’s happy as heck,” Schibler said.

“I said ‘I can’t believe you can walk and talk.’ The last I saw him, he was unable to walk and talk.”

Delorme walked out of his room with assistance down the hall and came back by himself walking with two canes.

“He’s walking on his own, this is where I start crying,” Schibler said. “It was such an incredible feeling of knowing that this fella must have the power of positive thinking.”

“It was pretty emotional,” Delorme said. “He saw me at my worst. I was supposed to be dead so I wanted to show him that a guy can bounce back, and that’s why I wanted to show him that I can walk with a cane.”

Delorme said his recovery has been a “crazy journey.”

Doctors told him the likelihood of recovering the use of his legs was slim, he said.

Despite a tough battle, taking him to various places in the Central Okanagan and Manitoba, Delorme persevered.

He had two goals: to go to the gym regularly and to get his own place.

Two weeks ago, he achieved both. He moved into his own place on Leon Avenue in Kelowna.

“My next goal is to come more into my son’s life and have him stay with me on weekends,” Delorme said, whose son is now 10.

His calendar keeps him scheduled and he’s able to fully look after himself now.

He also has a silver lining to the whole experience, saying it changed who he is for the better.

“The way I lived my life (prior to the accident) was super stupid,” he said.

He said he used to smoke, drink and even though he made more than $100,000 a year, when he got home he would spend it on whatever he wanted and was living paycheque to paycheque.

“My philosophy was work you hard, you play hard,” he said.

Now he treats people with more respect, he said.

“The fact that he’s come to this point today is wonderful in the fact that his determination,” Schibler, who was recovering from a liver transplant the day he helped Delorme, said.

“The fact that I had somebody was able to give me life through being an organ donor and as I’m recovering I’m able to turn around and help someone else, it just shows that it helps to help other people… to hear (Delorme) tell his story, it’s a good story.”

@carliberry_
carli.berry@kelownacapnews.com

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