Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Fundraiser set to assist crash victim

Express Staff Writer

On June 17, 2004, Jess Matey of Hailey was in a rollover accident that collapsed the roof of the car in which he was a passenger on Lower Broadford Road in Bellevue. The accident left him temporarily in a coma, and with a severe brain injury. He has not walked, talked or eaten solid foods since.

This weekend, the Wood River High School Quest class will hold a fundraiser for Jess, now 20, and his parents, Chris and Pam Matey. The fundraiser will help them with travel and living expenses for special treatment at the Cleveland Clinic.

Jess recently returned from Cleveland where he had a medical assessment to determine if he qualified for deep-brain stimulation treatment. Because of his good care and young age, the doctors feel he could make improvements and possibly communicate more. His family says they are "cautiously optimistic."

This weekend, the Wood River High School's Quest class will hold a fundraiser at the Valley Car Wash, located at the south end of Hailey just east of the rodeo grounds.

Carlos Rodriguez, owner of Valley Car Wash, is donating the facility, water and soap for the event.

Last fall, the first trimester Quest class held a "Darius Goes West Day" to bring awareness to accessibility for those with handicaps. Taught by Janet Dennis, Quest is a "personal growth class, in which students learn ways to be more successful in their lives that include, of course, service learning," she said.

The students will ask customers to sign the petition for People Safe in Rollovers Foundation, which is working to let people know about preventable roof-crush injuries. It is campaigning for Congress to enact laws for strong roofs so people in rollover accidents will not suffer serious injury or die.

The nonprofit organization sponsored billboards with the message that strong roofs save lives, in honor of people seriously injured or killed in a rollover. The organization honored Jess on a billboard on Chinden Boulevard in Boise.

The organization is attempting to bring attention to the proposed Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 216—Roof Crush Resistance. The proposed standard will not protect the occupant from the crushing of the roof in the event of a rollover accident. Automobile manufacturers that meet Standard No. 216 would be protected from liability should the passenger be killed or catastrophically injured in a rollover roof-crush accident.

In late 2007, a billboard was strategically placed in Little Rock, Ark., to get the attention of Sen. Mark Pryor, D-Arkansas, who is chairman of the Senate Commerce Subcommittee on Automobile Safety.

The roof-crush issue is schedule to go before the U.S. Senate on May 6.

Car Wash Fundraiser

When: 1-4 p.m. Friday, April 25 and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, April 26.

Who: Wood River High School's Quest class.

Where: Valley Car Wash, Highway 75 in Hailey.

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