November 22, 1999
DUVALL--It happened so fast, he couldn't react in time.
Craig Stephens, 36, was working in his garage last March and tried to pull a chain out from under a heavy motor. The motor fell, crushing his hand. Since then, the Duvall-area resident has undergone four operations, but surgeons have not been optimistic that he will ever regain use of the hand. Infection has also eaten away at the cartilage, leaving him in chronic pain and unable to work.
"I'm too young for a knuckle rebuild," he said. "There are three casts on the hand to try to straighten out the tendons, but scar tissue keeps pulling them down."
Ironically, if the accident had happened at work, state Labor and Industries would be taking care of him and his two boys, 8 and 10 years old. But because it happened at home, the Boeing structural mechanic not only lost the use of his hand, but his income, as well.
Boeing did extend his medical coverage to December 31, which covered his surgeries, but over the last few months, his assets have dwindled down to nothing as he faces monthly rent payments and mounting bills. He says he is still working to obtain state disability payments, but so far, he has not been successful in getting any lasting benefits.
Over the last few months, St. Vincent de Paul, Holy Innocents Catholic Church, and the Multi-Service Center food bank have pitched in to help. The Boeing Good Neighbor Fund sent two months' rent, which will last until the end of December.
Joan Ramsey, who works with the local St. Vincent de Paul conference, said St. Vincent's has helped out with rent, filled the propane tank, made a car payment, and bought some gas. "But he needs more help," she said. "This is an urgent case."
Stephens needs warm clothes and boots for his children. The boys need shirts, size 10 and 12; pants, 12 and 8 regular; and shoes, sizes 3 1/2 and 4 1/2; also paper plates and cups, since he has difficulty washing dishes.
Holy Innocents Catholic Church in Duvall has "adopted" the family and are accepting monetary donations, which can be sent to 26632 NE Stella St., Duvall, WA 98019, or to Stephens' address at P.O. Box 792, Carnation, WA 98014.