Today marks roughly one month since the former Hoërskool Noordheuwel learner, Erick Breedt, was viciously impaled by an elephant while on duty on the Sandringham Reserve just outside Hoedspruit in Limpopo, Krugersdorp News reports.
After the tragic event, he was rushed to hospital, where doctors were presented with a set of injuries, including a split throat, severe oesophagus and trachea damage, a broken ankle, a jaw broken in three places and damaged vocal cords and facial nerves.
It was also later discovered that his left lung had collapsed and that he will never be able to use his normal voice or swallow normally again. Doctors are in the process of exploring all avenues to restore his initial condition.
Within the last month, Erick has undergone an ankle/leg operation, facial fracture and lung treatments, six-hour surgeries, experienced dangerously high fever, serious swelling, several scans and further trachea challenges, among many other things.
Despite daily obstacles, he still chooses to rise above them and remain positive. With this he unknowingly and unintentionally managed to accumulate hundreds of supporters, all eager to follow and support him on his road to recovery.
Not long after the tragic incident, Erick’s mother, Annelie Jordaan, created a support group on Facebook enabling its readers to receive frequent updates about the brave ranger’s journey. This group currently consists of almost 1 700 members.
Each day this group is flooded, not only with updates, but also with motivational messages and emails from supporters.
“We’ve received a lot of interest and we are so thankful for everyone who is supporting us on this journey,” Annelie said.
Erick is currently conscious and improves daily. He is also slowly, but surely starting to walk on crutches again and even though he has his ‘off’ days, he isn’t giving up.
Every dark cloud might even have a silver lining, since Erick’s mother has decided to establish an NPO in an effort to help others like him in future.
“It is 2.39am and I can’t sleep … I am humbled, overjoyed, grateful, gobsmacked, worried, overwhelmed … all at the same time. I’ve made a decision. Today I am registering an organisation – The Vaatjie Foundation,” she explaine about a week after the incident.
“Vaatjie is the Afrikaans word for a small barrel. Erick’s nickname at Protrack is Vaatjie. This foundation will provide assistance to APU (Anti-Poaching Unit) employees and their families when injured or killed while protecting our wildlife heritage.”
With almost 2 000 supporters behind him, Erick is currently preparing for a panendoscopy, which will take place in theatre on Friday.
For more updates and information, feel free to visit Erick’s Facebook page, ‘Support for Erick’.