A young woman from Headingley is fighting to keep her leg after a boating accident while on vacation in South Africa. At the same time, her family is fighting with their insurance provider to cover her medical expenses.

Emelia Grobler traveled to South Africa to visit family over the holidays. On Dec. 21, while on a boat tour, their boat collided with another one as it was leaving the harbour.

“Their boat became airborne. My sister flew over the front end,” said Emelia’s sister Adelinde.

The boat ran over Emelia, cutting off two toes, breaking her femur and severing her sciatic nerve.

“They dragged her to the beach and luckily there were some doctors and my dad were able to help and put pressure on her femoral artery to stop the bleeding, so that she wouldn’t go into complete shock,” said Adelinde.

Emelia was taken by ambulance to a hospital 100 km away in Port Elizabeth, where she underwent extensive surgeries to remove sand, repair her bones and try to reattach her toes.

“Right now, she’s fighting to keep her leg,” said Adelinde. She said she plans to leave Dec. 26 to go visit her sister in the hospital.

“They took the laptop into the ICU and I was able to see her. She’s in bad shape,” said Adelinde, trying to stop herself from crying.

Meanwhile, the family is fighting with their insurance provider to cover Emelia’s medical expenses. “We took out travel and medical insurance under BMO Mastercard, and when we called to let them know about the accident they said because she’s 26, they said she’s not covered under our plan,” said Adelinde.

“So why we’re upset is, before we left, we had called, because my parents had booked all the tickets under one Mastercard, and they had checked if there was medical coverage and they said, ‘Yes.’ Now, they’re splitting hairs regarding what words were used on the phone.

“Why would we pick an insurance policy that wouldn’t cover one person on the trip? So that’s where we’re stuck.”

Emelia is nearly finished her training to become a chartered accountant and expected to start a new job in January. “She’s a very ambitious girl, very beautiful girl, and the fact that she might lose her leg is something we’re really struggling with,” said Adelinde.

“We just want to get her back to Canada, but insurance was supposed to help us out with that.”

Still, the family realizes that the situation could be even worse and is grateful Emelia survived the accident.

“I think she’s a very strong girl. I think most people wouldn’t have survived this accident,” said Adelinde. “My biggest point is this medical insurance. Be careful what it is that you’re taking out and who you’re trusting.”