Len Fisher, 91, holds up a photo of the plane he crashed while spraying a field near Neepawa on June 23, 1953. Fisher is filing a claim with the Workers Compensation Board almost 60 years after the accident for expenses incurred during the eight months he spent in Winnipeg General Hospital recovering. (CHARLES TWEED/BRANDON SUN)
Nearly 60 years after being injured in a plane crash, Len Fisher is filing a claim with the Workers Compensation Board of Manitoba.
Fisher is seeking compensation for the eight months he spent in hospital after his light aircraft crashed near Neepawa on June 23, 1953.
"If I can get some help from Workers Compensation, it would sure help," Fisher said. "Things have inflated quite a bit in the last year between house taxes and insurance costs."
On that fateful day in 1953, Fisher was working for Brandon Air Services and was contracted to spray a field near Neepawa. Thunderstorms had prevented him from getting an early start on the land. As dusk settled in, the then-32-year-old pilot made his last pass parallel to a long stretch of power lines to ensure every inch of field was sprayed.
Unfortunately he failed to notice a lone telephone pole directly in line with his path.
"It was getting near dark and I didn’t see the line at all," Fisher said. "All I remember is making that last pass and then waking up in Winnipeg."
Hitting the telephone pole not only knocked Fisher out, it also knocked out all communication between the rural area and the hospital, forcing local farmers to load Fisher up into the back of a truck to transport him to the Neepawa General Hospital.
The following day he was transported to Winnipeg where he would spend the next eight months recovering from his injuries.
"I shattered both of my ankles really bad," Fisher said. "To make it worse, I had an infection on my right ankle and it took them six months of battling it before they could operate."
Today, the 91-year-old walks with a cane, his right foot bent inward from the crash and the subsequent 15 operations he’s had on the ankle. The injury never prevented Fisher from returning to work, as the pilot continued on in the field of aviation until he was 83-years-old, but he is hoping to get some compensation for the eight months he spent in hospital in 1953.
Between room costs and medical procedures at Winnipeg General Hospital, Fisher has receipts for between $2,000 and $3,000.
"I don’t know why I kept the receipts, but I did," Fisher said.
With receipts from the hospital, photos of the crash, and news coverage from The Brandon Daily Sun in hand, Fisher is confident his claim has merit and intends on filing it at some point this week. In fact, he is more concerned about the claim from the other side of the desk.
"I don’t even know if Worker’s Compensation was active in 1953 or not," Fisher said.
As Canada’s first social program, Workers Compensation was introduced in 1916 in Manitoba, meaning Fisher’s claim will be evaluated.
"Who know’s if I have a chance, but it’s something that happened and it put me in a big hole for a long time," Fisher said. "All I know is it sure would help out a lot right now."
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition June 21, 2012