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Alberni woman recovers from harrowing car accident in northern BC

Casandra Dievert facing year of rehab after breaking back
PHOTO COURTESY DIEVERT FAMILY Casandra Dievert of Port Alberni lies in Vancouver General Hospital recovering from surgery to a broken back following a car accident near Hazelton, BC.

Casandra Dievert of Port Alberni is recovering in a Vancouver hospital with a broken back after her car went off the road and plunged down a 50-foot embankment near Hazelton two weeks ago.

Dievert, 21, who is now living in Smithers, was on her way to make a presentation in Terrace for an Infant and Child Mental Health course she has been taking when the accident happened, according to Dievert’s mother, Shelley.

“People in two other vehicles saw it happening,” Shelley Dievert related. “One drove to cellphone range to call 911, while the other stopped to help as best as they could, walking down the steep embankment to where she landed.”

Casandra was flown to Vancouver General Hospital where she was operated on the next day. She now has a plate and four rods to repair her broken back, and cannot feel anything below her waist.

“She has an MRI every week, checking on her progress, evaluating what each week brings,” Shelley said, adding that they don’t know whether the paralysis is permanent. “Her medical team is evaluating her, so we don’t really know.”

Casandra’s fiancé, Tyler Poohachoff, has taken a leave of absence from his job in Smithers to be with her at the hospital in Vancouver.

Casandra moved to Smithers in July 2015 after finishing the Early Childhood Care and Education Certificate at North Island College’s Port Alberni campus. She had already met Poohachoff prior to finding a job in Smithers, and once she moved north their romance blossomed, Shelley said.

The couple became engaged in January 2017, and have been planning a wedding for September 2018.

Casandra has already started physiotherapy to build her upper body strength, and her family is hoping she will be transferred to GF Strong Rehabilitation Centre in Vancouver. She is facing a year to a year and a half of rehab, Shelley said.

Casandra’s outlook is positive despite the trauma she has undergone, according to her mother. Her hospital room is festooned with drawings and messages from her students at The Ark Preschool Daycare in Smithers, where she has been working for nearly two years.

“She feels that it doesn’t matter what they tell her, she’s going to move forward. She feels she will walk again. She believes. She’s strong-minded and strong-willed. If God intended her not to walk that’s one thing, but she won’t give up hope—ever.”

Poohachoff is staying in Vancouver while Casandra is in the hospital, and is without a vehicle at the moment. Casandra doesn’t know when she will be able to return to her job at The Ark.

A special account has been set up at RBC Royal Bank to assist the young couple with expenses not covered by the Medical Services Plan. Donations can be sent by e-transfer to or

PHOTO COURTESY DIEVERT FAMILY Casandra Dievert and her fiancé, Tyler Poohachoff, of Smithers.

Susie Quinn

About the Author: Susie Quinn

A journalist since 1987, I proudly serve as the Alberni Valley News editor.
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