EDMONTON — Former colleagues are rallying to bring home a retired Edmonton firefighter who contracted a rare virus and fell into a coma in Thailand in January.
His family says Bill Hughes was on vacation when he was hospitalized for a mosquito-borne infection known as Japanese encephalitis.
Since then, he's remained unconscious and in-care overseas.
His daughter flew to Thailand to watch over him, but now the family is struggling to pay their way home.
"(Bill is) an excellent person, (who) gave back to the community throughout his career."
Greg Holubowich, Hughes' former co-worker and the current president of the Edmonton Firefighters' Union, says it could cost as much as $200,000.
As of Monday morning, supporters had raised more than $30,000 in an online fundraiser, and the firefighters' union says it is looking into launching additional fundraisers of its own.
Hughes' family says they've already had to sell off some of their personal possessions to pay for travel and medical fees.
"(Bill is) an excellent person, (who) gave back to the community throughout his career,'' Holubowich says. "I would hope Edmontonians would find a way to help Bill now in his time of need.''
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