CALGARY — A 37-year-old Calgary man says he has stopped answering his phone after people began to question the legitimacy of the injuries he sustained on a trail in West Bragg Creek.
Stelios Psaroudakis tells CTV Calgary he is "lucky to be alive" after he was clotheslined by barbed wire strung across a riding trail last week.
He says his injuries are real and are serious, but says what's even more terrible is that "everybody's turned" on him and thinks he is lying about the incident.
Psaroudakis started a GoFundMe campaign after he was injured, asking for help to raise $8,000 to help him pay for his medical bills, replace the bike he left behind and was stolen, and buy cameras to mount along some bike trails.
But after $851 was raised, Psaroudakis closed the account "because I couldn't take all this badgering" and GoFundMe put a hold on the funds, saying an investigation had been started after some complaints were filed.
Members of the Cochrane RCMP detachment are investigating the biking incident but tell CTV they haven't seen where the crash allegedly happened, and have had trouble getting ahold of Psaroudakis.
Psaroudakis says he will take officers there but says he was himself confused about which trail he was on.
He says he was told it was Merlin Trail, and he assumed the information was correct and began to circulate it, but it turns out it was a different trail.
“Now they’re calling me a liar because I gave them the right information and they gave me the wrong information.”
Psaroudakis says his actions have been unfairly scrutinized: “People are like ‘Why’d you leave the bike there?’ I couldn’t even hardly walk. Why would I take the bike? I’m not thinking about my bike. Who cares? My life is more important than anything.”
As for the GoFundMe page, Psaroudakis says he was actually more worried about paying his rent and providing for his daughter than with getting a new bicycle.
“I don’t even want a bike no more," he says. "I’m going to have bikers spit on me because they think I’m lying.”
The Calgarian had created two other GoFundMe accounts previous to this one — one to help him pay to get his dog out of the pound — it raised $75 — and another that raised almost nothing for his mission to help the people of Fort McMurray who had lost everything in last year's wildfires.
“I’m the only one that put money in the Fort Mac fundraiser," he says. "I was going to go down there and help out, too, if I can. But to do that, I needed money for gas and to buy food and to give money to people that lost their houses.”