| Neighborhoods

Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Navy vet weathers rough patches on road to recovery

Dan Hika, 44, of New Kensington in his hospital room at Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center. He was paralyzed from the chest down in a swimming pool accident June 18, 2012. Photo courtesy of the Hika family.

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

How to help

The Dan Hika Fund

CGH Federal Credit Union

651 Fourth Ave.

New Kensington, PA 15068

Related .pdfs
Can't view the attachment? Then download the latest version of the free, Adobe Acrobat reader here:

Get Adobe Reader

Daily Photo Galleries

AlleKiski Valley Photo Galleries

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Editor's note: The Valley News Dispatch has been updating some of the stories that we covered in 2012. This is the final installment.

A New Kensington man who was paralyzed from the chest down in a swimming pool accident in June is being treated in a Cleveland veterans hospital.

Dan Hika, 44, transferred to the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center in mid-October to receive treatment for an ulcer so deep that it exposed his tailbone, said his wife, Cheryl.

“Thank God he was a vet because they're not worried about ‘This is ‘x' amount of time and then you have to go (home),' ” said Cheryl Hika, 45. Her husband enlisted in the Navy upon graduation from high school in 1987 and served four years.

“They want him well,” she said. “If we were relying on regular insurance, he'd be in a nursing home with no chance of coming home because he wouldn't get the wound care and he wouldn't get the rehabilitation.”

Hika suffered a spinal injury and was paralyzed when he dove into the family's backyard above-ground swimming pool on June 18.

He has limited movement in his upper extremities and diminished fine motor skills in his hands.

Hika's wife and three children, Michael, 8; Ashley, 14; and D.J., 13, make the three-hour drive to Cleveland every other weekend.

The weekend before Christmas, the family gathered in Hika's hospital room to celebrate the holiday.

“It was nice,” said Cheryl Hika. “We thought he would be upset because when we first took him there, he was upset that he would miss the holiday and all our birthdays in December and January.

“It was me who was the one that was upset,” she said. “He just said, ‘I'm done crying — we just have to take things one day at a time.' ”

Hika expects to return to the area in March. He'll transfer to HealthSouth in Indiana Township for rehabilitation in preparation for returning to their Freeport Road home.

The family uses money donated to a fund set up at the CGH Federal Credit Union to pay for travel costs and medical expenses.

“The next big thing will be home modification,” Cheryl Hika said.

She said that once her husband is up to it, he hopes to speak at schools in the New Kensington-Arnold School District about the dangers of diving into above-ground pools.

“There he is, living proof of ‘I'm supposed to know better, and here I am,' ” she said.

Jodi Weigand is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-226-4702 or

Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.



Show commenting policy

Most-Read AlleKiski Valley

  1. Rainy summer delays paving projects in New Kensington
  2. Armstrong inmate escapee charged with murdering family matriarch
  3. Winfield Community Park restroom project stalls over high contractor bids
  4. Captured Armstrong jail escapee Crissman’s criminal history
  5. New Kensington-Arnold committee discusses ways to combat bullying
  6. Winfield supervisors OK natural gas-drilling regulations
  7. ATI reveals details of contract offer to steelworkers union
  8. Animal Protectors of Allegheny Valley offers free services at clinic
  9. USW rallies in support of ATI, other steel companies’ employees
  10. Mt. St. Peter draws crowds with 34th annual Festa Italiana in New Kensington
  11. Northbound Rt. 28 ramp to 31st Street Bridge closed tonight