Diane Gardner inside one of the grand prize homes of the Hometown Heroes Lottery. (Aaron Hinks photo)

VIDEO: B.C. woman praises burn fund after boat explosion in 1978

White Rock woman was 16 years old when she was left with second- and third-degree burns

Doctors from Vancouver General Hospital’s burn unit didn’t expect White Rock’s Diane Gardner to survive.

It was 1978. Gardner was in the cabin of a 40-foot boat, docked in Campbell River to refuel. She was 16 years old.

Unbeknownst to her, there was an broken fuel line on the boat, and 400 gallons of gasoline was exposed.

The engine turned over and the boat exploded, hurling Gardner 20 feet from the cabin off the aft of the boat, into the water.

She was pulled out and rushed to the local hospital, while her skin, she said, was “hanging off my body in shreds, like streamers.”

She was then flown to the burn unit at Vancouver General Hospital. She had second- and third-degree burns on 90 per cent of her body and ended up spending three months in hospital.

Gardner now uses her story to highlight the importance of the BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund.

If only the fund was available when she was burned. Coincidentally, it was started the same year of her injury.

Watch Gardner describe what happened that day in 1978:

Although the explosion happened in a matter of seconds, Gardner said the impact is a “lifelong journey.”

“Burns are not just the pain, disfigurement and injury itself. It’s the emotional and psychological injury. I kind of believe if you don’t deal with things, those will come back to haunt you,” she told Peace Arch News Friday.

After Gardner healed, she “got on with my life,” and incredibly, was able to graduate high school with her friends. She went on to study at Simon Fraser University, graduating with a degree in communications before spending many years working for an advertisement agency.

With a glowing smile, she spoke of the support and programs made possible through the burn fund, including an adult program of suvivors and a kids’ summer camp.

“I don’t even have words to describe it. It just fills my heart, it’s come such a long way,” she said.

The most significant aspect, she said, is speaking to others who experienced a similar injury.

“It really gave me courage to wear my injuries and a scars like a badge of honour.”

A chance interaction with another burn survivor, in a Penticton Starbucks seven years ago, had planted a seed.

Despite Gardner not having visible scars, a woman working at the coffee shop grabbed her and recognized that she was a burn survivor. The woman, a survivor herself, asked Gardner if the two could speak after her shift.

The woman explained the burn fund and its programs.

“It was life changing,” she said. “That was a long time ago. But again, a burn injury is a lifelong thing, it’s not just an injury and you get over it.”

Gardner has been selected to attend the Canadian Burn Survivors Conference in Halifax this June. The event will come to Vancouver in 2020.

“I’m honoured, and really excited to see what I’m going to learn.”

Gardner shared her story of survival in the backyard of a Hometown Heroes Lottery prize home.

Proceeds of lottery ticket sales go toward specialized adult health services and research at VGH and UBC Hospital, GF Strong Rehab Centre, Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute and Vancouver Community Health Services. Funds also support the BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund.

To learn more about the 2018 Hometown Heroes Lottery, and to purchase tickets, visit https://heroeslottery.com/



aaron.hinks@peacearchnews.com

Visit us at peacearchnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Community and collaboration drive Binche Fishing Derby

Family time, forward thinking and positive initiatives to be highlighted

115 new wildfires burning across B.C. due to 19,000 lightning strikes

More fires expected to start today, says BC Wildfire Service officials

Marijuana to be legal in Canada Oct. 17: Trudeau

Prime Minister made the announcement during question period in the House of Commons

Dr. Paul Stent awarded Key to the Community

On June 4, local physician Dr. Paul Stent was presented with the… Continue reading

Audit finds Canfor did not comply with bridge maintenance legislation

Per a news release issued by the Forest Practices board, an independent… Continue reading

B.C. BMX kid wows GoPro with homemade video

Eight-year-old Rex Johnson wins award for inventive video

Blue Jays closer Roberto Osuna suspended for 75 games

23-year-old pitcher faces assault charge

Vancouver Canucks tab Quinn Hughes with No. 7 overall pick in NHL draft

University of Michigan standout was second defenceman picked in first round

Gun, drugs and cash seized in arrest of alleged B.C. fentanyl dealer

Vancouver Island man Brent Connors is facing nine charges in relation to investigation

Jogger spent two weeks in U.S. detention centre after accidentally crossing B.C. border

Cedella Roman, 19, crossed the border while out for a run

PHOTOS: Police rescue baby seal found on rocky B.C. shoreline

Marina Mammal Rescue Centre recommends residents observe from a distance

B.C. woman with severely disabled son keeps getting parking tickets

‘There has to be something they could do’

‘Creep off’ reporting system aims to track street harassment in Metro Vancouver

Text-based hotline launches to collect public reports on where and when harassment occurs

10 feet from home: B.C. grassfire offers stark reminder how quickly blazes burn

Kamloops woman among first people in B.C. to be told to evacuate home this wildfire season

Most Read