On April 4, well-known local spearfisherman, soccer coach, scuba diver and tree-trimmer "Diver" Dan Kramer, suffered severe injuries during a horrific workplace accident.
The 39-year Key West resident, husband, and father of two little girls, was 20 feet up a tree at a local guesthouse when the limb he was leaning on to steady himself gave way, sending him head-first into the concrete.
Paramedics rushed to the scene and resuscitated Kramer, who then was airlifted to Ryder Trauma Center in Miami, which is better equipped to handle cases like his than any other facility in the area. Kramer has remained in a coma since.
"He sustained massive injuries to the entire left side of his body; two collapsed lungs and a broken leg, knee, hip, pelvis, wrist, arm, shoulder, and most importantly, his skull," said family friend Mike Currie, who with his wife, Elizabeth, has stepped up to coordinate relief efforts for Kramer, his wife Karem and daughters Katrina, 10, and Jessica, 8.
"The doctors characterize his condition as 'extremely critical, but stable,' with head and limb injuries they call 'pulverized,'" Currie said.
Because Kramer's bones began to knit as he lay bedridden, the surgeons finally elected to conduct what turned out to be an 8.5-hour operation to reconstruct his pelvis and hip and set his broken wrist, Currie said.
"The operations were successful, but due to massive blood loss during the operation, they've decided not to go ahead with any more operations for a while," he added.
As Kramer's family continues to conduct a vigil at his bedside, the Curries have been busy helping to organize a number of benefits to help get them through this most difficult of times.
The first will take place from 4 to 7 p.m. Saturday at Nine One Five Restaurant, 915 Duval St. The event will feature hors d'oeuvres and a silent auction to benefit the Dan Kramer Fund, which has been set up at IberiaBank, 1000 Kennedy Drive.
Another event will be held from 7 to 9 p.m. Tuesday at Boondocks, Mile Marker 27.5 on Ramrod Key, and will feature bingo, and another silent auction, this one conducted by the Coldwell Banker Schmitt Charitable Foundation, which has raised mroe than $1 million for locals in need over the past 10 years.
"Because Dan was the sole breadwinner for his family and could not afford the cost-prohibitive accident or health insurance for the dangerous arborist business he started when he was already over 40 years old, his family is now facing a very difficult and uncertain future," Currie said. "The helicopter flight to Miami alone cost over $33,000, and they are almost certain to lose their home and business in the months ahead. The medical costs are yet another extremely costly and burdensome expense to this already ravaged family. They desperately need the community's support, so let's prove yet again, that we are, indeed, 'One Human Family' that takes care of its own."
In addition to the fundraisers, the Curries have arranged for a raffle of a bag hand-painted by Key West art legend Mario Sanchez valued at a cool $10,000. Only 200 tickets will be sold, at $50 each, with all the proceeds going into the Dan Kramer Fund, which can be accessed only by Karem Kramer.
Meanwhile, Dan Kramer languishes in a Miami hospital bed with his heartbroken family at his side. Regardless of the ultimate outcome of his injuries, Kramer's doctors expect him to remain at Ryder for at least seven more months.
"God has a miracle with Diver Dan's name on it," Elizabeth Currie said. "He just needs to look a little harder for it."
Mike and Elizabeth Currie are still looking for donations for the silent auctions, as well as donations for the Kramer Fund. To contribute, call 305-296-6831 or 305-745-4983.