KITCHENER – The firefighter seriously injured in a house explosion in London, Ont. in 2019 said in a victim impact statement that his colleagues did not believe he would survive.
Daniella Leis, a Kitchener woman, drove into a house on Woodman Avenue this August, disconnected a gas line and caused an explosion that injured seven people, including two firefighters.
The defendant pleaded guilty in October of four incidents of driving disorder that caused bodily harm for her role in the explosion.
In a victim impact statement, one of the injured firefighters, who is from the Waterloo area and has only been a professional firefighter for 2.5 years, said the explosion had knocked him unconscious. He said he suffered facial trauma, broken bones, severed ligaments and long bruises in the blast.
The Crown Attorney passed on the firefighter’s request that his name not be used in this coverage and CTV Kitchener has decided to honor his request.
MAJOR INJURIES LED FOR LONGEST HOSPITAL
“My facial trauma is most noticeable, with extreme scarring and partial loss of structure to my left ear, as well as missing teeth and part of my upper palette affecting my self-esteem,” he says in part of his impact victim statement.
He said his body was “littered with open wounds” that needed sutures and bruises that stained his entire body.
Emergency teams on site during the Woodman Avenue explosion on August 14, 2019.
His first hospital stay was eight days.
“The only thing I wanted during this time was to go home and be with my family,” the statement said. He and his wife had been married for a little over a year and had a three-month-old baby at the time of the explosion.
“But when we were there, life wasn’t what it was anymore.”
The man said he couldn’t stand alone. His hands were bandaged and useless and he needed help. Because of the facial trauma he suffered, his food had to be mixed.
“For the first few days I could only eat and sleep.”
He stated that it was necessary that another family be there at all times to help with the couple’s new reality. The firefighter described the daily chores such as cleaning, running errands, groceries, and babysitting that he needed help with.
“Without them and their support, my recovery would not have been possible,” he said.
A LONG WAY TO GO
Still, this recovery is far from over, he said.
“There is no end of my recovery in sight. Further proceedings are planned for the coming years,” said his statement.
“The trauma that I have now for the rest of my career is not just limited to my physical scars,” it said.
“I know an unprecedented incident of this magnitude has happened to me, so early in my career it will have a lasting impact on my mental health.”
The firefighter was one of seven victims who provided impact assessments during the Leis hearing that began last week.
During the hearing, Leis cried as she told the victims and the court about Zoom, “I can’t express how sorry I am for what I’ve done … I’ll never forgive myself for that.”
She added, “I feel terrible because I’ve done so much damage … and I will never stop feeling sorry for my actions.”
Crown Attorney Jason Miller asks Justice George Orsini to give Leis a three-year sentence.
Richard Braiden, the woman’s defense counsel, applies for a prison sentence in the Upper Reformatory or Lower Prison, which is roughly two years.
The woman is expected to be sentenced on February 11th.