CAMANO ISLAND — Ric Shallow was planning to leave for Kenya this week on his fourth service trip to help with veterinary care and agricultural development in rural villages.
Instead of collecting donated seeds and packing his bags, he’s recovering from a traumatic brain injury, fractured bones and collapsed lungs at Harborview Medical Center in Seattle.
Shallow, 58, was badly hurt in a crash Jan. 7, when his car hit a patch of black ice and skidded off the road and into a tree along North Sunrise Boulevard on Camano Island. Another car had slipped off the road in the other direction shortly before and the driver called 911. First responders hurried to airlift Ric Shallow to Harborview for emergency surgery.
Julie Shallow, Ric’s wife of 37 years, is asking for prayers and positive thoughts while her husband heals.
Doctors say his brain scans look good and she’s optimistic he’ll make a full recovery, but it’s going to be a long road.
Ric Shallow’s awake and aware but hasn’t been able to communicate much, she said. He responds to his family’s voices. Last week, when his daughter asked him to wiggle his toes, he did. Julie has gotten him to lift his leg.
“He’s going in the right direction,” she said.
Ric and Julie Shallow graduated from Mountlake Terrace High School together in 1975 and married in 1978. They’ve lived on Camano Island for 16 years and have four grown children and three grandchildren.
Dan Haskins, a local veterinarian, and his wife have been close friends with the Shallows for nine years. They attend Our Saviour’s Lutheran Church in Stanwood together and Haskins leads the service trips to Kenya. The volunteers and villagers they’ve met in the past will miss Ric this year, he said.
Ric’s friends and family hope to hear him sing again soon. He sings in the church choir, the Sno-King Community Chorale and with the Victorian Carolers at the Warm Beach Lights of Christmas.
He’s acted in local productions of “The Sound of Music,” “Annie Get Your Gun” and “Mamma Mia!”
“He has an amazing voice,” Haskins said. “When he’s singing in the pew behind me, I can actually carry a tune.”
Ric Shallow has worked as a mortgage broker, Realtor and for a while he and Julie co-owned Sharky’s restaurant in downtown Stanwood, which opened in June 2014 and closed last fall.
He’s “a big part of the community,” Haskins said.
People who want to help the family can donate at any Coastal Community Bank by asking to contribute to Ric Shallow’s support fund. There also is an online donation site at gofundme.com/ricshallowsupport.
Julie Shallow expects her husband has months of recovery ahead of him. He has a lot of people rooting for him, though. She’s thankful he’s alive. If he hadn’t been treated and transported to Harborview during the critical first hour after the accident, she’s sure she would have lost him.
“I just thank God for those first responders,” she said. “He would not have survived without them. They saved his life.”
He was on his way to work around 9 a.m. when he crashed. She was on her way home from her job as a flight attendant.
By her estimates, she likely was driving one street over from where paramedics were intubating her husband and getting him out of his crumpled car. If she’d taken the back road home, she probably would have driven right up to the accident.
She didn’t think anything was out of the ordinary when she arrived home and he was gone, assuming he was at work. She went back to their room to rest.
“About 45 minutes after I laid down, there was a knock on the door and the sheriff was there,” she said. “And then my world fell apart.”
She chokes up when she talks about how the community has helped.
People think of the little things she needs before she realizes she needs them, like paying for lunches at the hospital cafeteria or setting up ways to donate at the bank and online. It lets her focus on being there for her husband.
“They told us in the beginning that he’ll have really good days and then he’ll plateau or he’ll have bad days and seem to go backward,” Julie Shallow said.
“Obviously, the most important thing is prayers. We’re asking people to pray and send good thoughts.”
Kari Bray: 425-339-3439; firstname.lastname@example.org.