Burnaby man suing PNE after horse trampling

A Burnaby senior is suing the Pacific National Exhibition and the City of Vancouver after being trampled by a horse during the fair last August.

Yuen Yen Benny Wong, 77, was walking in the Miller Drive area of the fairgrounds on Aug. 22 when an uncontrolled horse suddenly ran up the roadway and knocked him to the ground, according to the notice of civil claim filed Nov. 28.

The suit also names as a defendant John Doe, the owner of the horse, who is unknown to the plaintiff.

Wong, a retired B.C. Ferries worker, claims he suffered a traumatic brain injury, head injuries and a stroke as a result, the court document says. He is seeking damages as well as the cost of past and future health care.

When contacted at her South Burnaby home, Wong's wife, Min Yee, confirmed she hired a lawyer and referred all further questions to her.

Wong's lawyer, Robyn Wishart, said Benny Wong was at the PNE with his wife on senior's day.

"He was trampled by the horse, sort of thrown in the air. He landed on his head. His injuries are catastrophic in nature."

His traumatic brain injury required surgery and it's left him unable to eat, walk, use a washroom by himself or carry on a conversation. He remains in hospital in intensive care, Wishart said.

He has "weathered quite a few storms" healthwise since the incident but has managed to pull through to the point that doctors are looking at releasing him to a long-term care facility.

"He will not be able to return home to his wife and son. He requires 24 hour care," she said.

Unlike motor vehicle accidents where the Insurance (Vehicle) Act provides benefits of $150,000 which can be paid out directly for medical needs, Wong's case provides no such benefits, "which is why we've started this lawsuit so quickly," Wishart said.

He's on a public waitlist for a bed in a care home, but he doesn't speak English, only Cantonese.

"There's a lot of concern by the family that with what little speech he has he's not going to be able to communicate with the people in the rest home," she said. "It's a trying time to say the least for the Wongs."

He'll get the first bed available to him, but that could be in a facility without Cantonese-speaking nurses or care aides or anywhere in the Lower Mainland. The family is seeking a facility close to their Burnaby home where his wife lives with their son, who has disabilities himself.

If the lawsuit is successful, the family hopes to receive enough compensation to allow them to pay for Wong's care privately, which would give them a choice in what facility he is moved to, Wishart explained.

"He was a healthy man in his late 70s with his wife at the PNE one moment and the next moment he's fed through a feeding tube in intensive care," she said. "He will not recover from his injuries. They are of a catastrophic nature and so he will live out the rest of his life in a care home."

PNE spokesperson Laura Ballance declined to comment on the case as it's before the courts.

None of the defendants have yet filed statements of defence.

At the time of the incident, media reported that the horse left the livestock barns and wandered onto Miller Drive. It became spooked and ran off when a staff person approached it. Two people were taken to hospital as a result.

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