Skagway man's medical ordeal prolonged by lack of highway

Snowmobiler learns Canadian doctors no longer treat Americans

Posted: Thursday, March 17, 2005

The Road Series

SKAGWAY - Late in the afternoon on Sunday, Feb. 27, White Pass & Yukon Railroad employee Kevin Greaser inadvertently became the poster boy for Skagway's pro-road contingent.

He and a few friends were snowmobiling near Fraser, British Columbia, just off the Klondike Highway. His sled hit a hole, his left foot was caught in the running board, and body and machine lurched in opposite directions.

His leg was shattered, with a spiral fracture to both bones in his lower leg.

His friends fashioned a splint out of duct tape and snowmobile handles, and he snowmobiled 20 miles back to the Klondike. It was dark, and he and his wife, Angie, drove 110 miles north to Whitehorse. Canadian doctors made a cast for his leg but told him they could no longer treat Americans.

"I don't even care if I ever go to Whitehorse and spend another dime," Greaser said. "They didn't mind having our dollars when (the Canadian dollar was worth) 67 cents."

The Greasers arrived back in Skagway at 3:30 a.m. Monday, Feb. 28. Planes couldn't fly because of the weather, so Kevin had to wait for the 5:30 p.m. ferry. It got to Juneau at 3 a.m. that Tuesday, but Juneau surgeons couldn't treat him until the next day. The delay meant he had to wait until 5:45 p.m. Friday, March 4, to take the state ferry Matanuska back to Skagway. It was two hours late.

"That really sucked," Greaser said. "My foot wasn't even straight. It was still pointed to the left there, at about a 45 (degree angle). That cast they gave me up (in Whitehorse) just rubbed my leg raw in no time."

"If we had a road, we could have driven down, he could have had the surgery the next day, and then we could have driven back," his wife said. "I didn't even know if they were going to do the surgery in Juneau. I didn't want to take the kids out of school, have him go to Seattle and have us stuck down there until Friday."

For at least the next month, Kevin Greaser is stuck on his couch. On March 7, he couldn't fill a pain-relief prescription in Skagway. A friend's brother picked it up in Juneau and sent it north on Skagway Air.

"There's only two ferries a week out of here," Greaser said. "You can't do anything. You have to spend a night each way just to ride on a jet out of Juneau. If there were a road, you could drive down there for a lot of things."

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