03/07/2012 09:26 EST | Updated 05/07/2012 05:12 EDT

Paralyzed B.C. Man Gets Huge Bill For Air Trip


A B.C. man paralyzed in an accident in Ontario has been stuck with a $27,800 air ambulance bill for his flight back to his home province — a bill he says he never saw coming.

Brent Worrall, of Vernon, B.C., was rushed to hospital in London, Ont., in August 2010 after he crashed while competing in a motocross race.

"I was going a little fast, I was airborne and I'm not sure what happened," said Worrall, 45, a former Canadian motocross champion.

Witnesses said he soared about 40 metres into the air and nose-dived into the track.

"I hit the ground, collapsed everything in the top half of my body, broke all my ribs, [collapsed] both my lungs, broke my sternum, my neck."

His injuries left him paralyzed from the chest down.

Worrall underwent surgery in London, but he said hospital staff put him on an ambulance eight days later, headed for B.C.

"I told them. ‘I only have B.C. health insurance, no means for extraneous flights,’ Worrall told CBC News.

He said a social worker assured him “it would be taken care of."

Surprise bill arrives

While he was recovering in hospital in Vernon from a subsequent surgery, he received the air ambulance bill.

"There's no way I would grant to a one-way flight for $27,800 across the country, I would take the Greyhound," he said.

Worrall has since learned that B.C. health insurance only covers air ambulance trips within the province.

B.C. health minister Mike de Jong said the government is contacting Ontario to find out why Worrall wasn't given the facts.

"It is one thing to say to a patient, ‘We're making arrangements for you to go home, here are the options, here are the costs involved.’ It's a far different matter to make arrangements and then send a bill for $30,000," said de Jong.

Worrall said he can't believe after all he's been through, he will also have to worry about calls from a collection agency about the outstanding bill.

"It's just like there's this impending cloud of doom following me," he said.

The London Health Sciences Centre, where Worrall was treated, said it was looking into the matter of the air ambulance invoice.