An account has been opened at National Bank of Arizona for the Payson Lifestar EMT who was seriously injured in a head-on collision in late November.
Payson resident Barbara Glinzak set the account up for Paul Rife III, 28, Monday after learning from her son, who is also an EMT at Lifestar, that Rife had broken his back in the crash and would be out of work for several months.
“My heart just goes out to him and his family, especially this time of year,” she said.
Rife was nearly paralyzed after a head-on collision on Highway 87 Nov. 24. According to DPS, as Rife and paramedic Todd Plues, 46, were driving back to Payson from the Valley at about 8 p.m., Sharon Delahanty, 68, was bearing southbound in the northbound lanes of Highway 87 near the Bush Highway turnoff.
Although Rife swerved, Delahanty struck the ambulance head-on with her Honda Accord. Delahanty died instantly.
Plues and Rife were rushed to the hospital in serious, but non-life threatening condition.
Plues was shortly thereafter discharged from the hospital, but Rife has had to undergo several surgeries to repair his back.
Rife’s leg was even briefly paralyzed after a bone shard punctured his spine. Doctors were able to remove the shard and Rife is now on the long road to recovery.
One of Rife’s main concerns, Glinzak learned, was keeping his family warm during the winter while he is recovering. Moments after the accident, Rife even told arriving paramedics he couldn’t afford to get hurt because he had cords of wood to chop.
Rife’s family lives in a rental home in Pine and relies heavily on a wood stove for heat.
In late November, Rim Country firefighters organized a wood chopping party and chopped several cords of wood for the family, however, they could also use money to make it though the winter.
Donations are accepted at the bank, at 804 S. Beeline Highway, in Rife’s name from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday.