An unfathomable double-tragedy is how Roni Novotny described the past 10 days.
Saturday, her parents, Peggy and Dennis Diehl, had their home in the Rural Municipality of Buckland destroyed by fire. The cause is not yet known.
It came just eight days after their grandson and Roni's nephew, Jake, was airlifted to Saskatoon after he fell while longboarding and was run over by the rear wheel of a Jeep and sustained major head trauma.
“Honestly, it is surreal,” Roni told paNOW Monday. “I kept thinking all weekend I was stuck in some horrible nightmare I was going to wake up from. But I guess that is not going to happen.”
Peggy and Dennis were not home when the fire broke out early Saturday morning, as they were in Saskatoon visiting Jake in the hospital. Roni received the call early Saturday of the fire and quickly drove out to the home on C.L. Marshall Road. She was met with police barricades and could only watch from afar as her childhood home turned to ash.
She recalled many fond memories growing up in the home with her brother and sister. Both she and her husband Jamie moved back to Prince Albert in 2015 to be closer to family and were routinely at the home for family gatherings.
“My mother lost everything. She is really devoted to her family and we have a quite close-knit family and I think that this is going to be the hardest on her,” she added. “All of her memories, all of her pictures, all of her videos of us growing up and heirlooms from my grandmother... It is going to be weird not being able to go out there.”
The couple said they remain in shock over what happened to Jake and the fire only adds to the disbelief and trauma they have grappled with in a very short period of time. Roni said the tole of the past week will most likely amplify going forward as it all slowly starts to set in.
"It is a lot of tragedy to process," she said.
The fire came in the midst of planning toward a musical fundraiser and silent auction held Sunday evening for Jake.
“We worked so hard Thursday and Friday for Jake’s [fundraiser] … [The fire] was just chaos thrown into the mix,” Roni said.
Her parents will most likely rebuild on the land, Roni said, as they have called it home for many years and her mother “loves that piece of property.”
Throughout the past week, the couple said witnessing the community outreach and show their support was touching and credited the remarkable care for helping them through it all.
“It is truly amazing…. My heart is so full and I am grateful for peoples' sympathy,” she said. “You can tell people care. When it gets tough, people pull together and this family will.”
Roni said the family will come together, find a way to move forward and continue the fight for Jake and be there during his long road to recovery.
“I am hopeful the future will give us more happiness,” she said.
According to a webpage set up to provide updates on his condition, Diehl was responding well to being weaned off painkillers. He remains in a medically induced coma, though doctors are gradually reducing the sedatives. Diehl has also started to initiate breaths on a ventilator. A GoFundMe account has been set up for his mother Karin to aid the family with costs associated with the accident.
On Twitter: @JournoMarr
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