Share This Page

Navy vet weathers rough patches on road to recovery

| Tuesday, Jan. 1, 2013, 12:02 a.m.
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.

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 jweigand@tribweb.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.