Crash victim Kim Klassen is making a comeback

Klassen is pure class
Horrific crashes can't keep this volleyballer off court
Howard Tsumura, The Province
Published: Friday, October 17, 2008

Kim Klassen still isn't too crazy about getting behind the wheel after dark. But it's about the only time in her life when she's content to be a passenger.

Front and centre as a student in Trinity Western University's nursing program and with the Spartans volleyball team, it's easy to see she takes a back seat to no one.

View CTV story on Kim

Yet, after what happened to her last winter, it's amazing that she's even standing, let alone leaping to collect a cache of kills as an outside hitter for one of the top volleyball teams in the country.

After the TWU Spartans' regular-season-ending win over UBC on Feb. 9, a match in which the 5-foot-11 Klassen totalled a career-high 14 kills, she was on her way home to Abbotsford when she was struck head-on by an impaired driver's vehicle on 16th Avenue in Langley.

Klassen, 21, believes the driver of the other vehicle was trying to cross over into his lane from the shoulder on her side of the road.

The impact, believed to be at around 130 km/h, caused the other car to explode into flames, killing the driver.

"I saw lights, but you don't think someone is coming right at you," says Klassen, who's fought concussion- and stress-related issues, as well as soft-muscle damage throughout her body.

"I am studying nursing and so I was thinking, 'OK, I am still alive. OK, I am in extreme pain, but my legs are still there.'

"It's hard for me because in this situation the guy never made it," continues Klassen, who against the odds has returned to her starting position on the court and this week leads her team at the Dino Cup Invitational in Calgary.

"Emotionally, it has just been very hard."

That night was also a roller coaster for the Spartans team, which lost senior Saralyn Stel to a torn ACL.

Team members at Langley Memorial to check on Stel were shocked when asked if they were visiting Klassen, whom they didn't had been in the accident.

It's not the first time Klassen has been in a serious car crash.

In her Grade 11 year at MEI Secondary, she was sitting in the back seat with her dad and mom Shirley in the front when an uninsured driver piloting a Corvette hit them head-on.

Everyone survived.

"Our team's heart breaks for Kim," says TWU coach Ryan Hofer.

"To be involved in an accident that takes the life of another, I can't even fathom what she has to work through.

"Then she has to work through the body of recovery. This happened four years ago and I saw her recover. Now she's got to do it all over again. But the beauty of Kim is that never once have I heard her complain. You have to be the one that asks her, 'Kim, do you need a break?' "

No, coach, but she isn't beyond thanking her higher power.

"It's been a long and frustrating journey, but I am just thankful for every day God gives me," Klassen says.

"I know there is a reason and I may not see what it is right now. But my parents both tell me, 'Just get back in your car and drive.' "

© The Vancouver Province 2008


Last Updated: 2008-10-22
Author: Scott Stewart