Bill Schantzenbach

First post: Oct 23, 2020 Latest post: Nov 21, 2020
On Saturday, October 17, 2020,  Bill - also affectionately known as Billy, Daddy, Mr. Bill, Poppy, and Schantz - had a devastating bicycle accident and experienced a traumatic brain injury.  Donna and their friends (a childhood friend of Bill's) were in Williamsburg with the intent to bike on the trails, take in the fresh air, and get away.  Donna and Bill have been biking for years and during the COVID environment, they have been even more active - taking daily walks and biking trails around Lancaster and surrounding areas.  Bill has been looking and feeling great, recently losing 20 lbs and feeling very healthy.  

Bill, Donna and their friends, Ronnie and Lois, arrived in Williamsburg on Saturday.  They unloaded their bags and immediately left for the bike trail to stretch their legs before dinner.  Donna and Lois finished at the trail first and Bill and Ronnie were trailing behind, which is normal because they were chatting and catching up while riding.  Ronnie then took the lead and Bill followed him.  The girls were in sight, as was the end of the trail.  Ronnie reached the girls, came to a stop and turned to talk with Bill.  He was not behind him.  Just up the trail, not more than a football field (probably less), someone was yelling and screaming for help.  For an unknown reason, Bill fell while on the trail.  We have a theory, having gone back to the site and seeing bike tracks and the area of impact, but they are only theories.  We may never know the cause of the fall.

Bill fell and hit the left side of his head and body.  His head took the brunt of the impact.  He lost a lot of blood and was unconscious for about 15 minutes.  He did wake up when the ambulance arrived and EMT began working on him.  At that time, he became very agitated which is common for a brain injury, we are told.  With the help of the EMTs, he was taken to VCU Trauma Center.  On Saturday night, he underwent a four hour brain surgery to suction the blood from his brain.  Donna did not know the extent of his injuries until the neurosurgeon, Dr. Fleming, spoke with her on the following day.    Bill experienced a traumatic brain injury as a result of the fall.   He spent his first week in the ICU, fighting for his life.

Donna called Kirstin, Bill's daughter in CT, and Deb, Dyan and Dana, her daughters, back home in PA, to tell the news.  It was pretty clear that she was trying to process everything and needed help.  Although she told us to stay home, Dana decided to drive to Richmond on Monday morning to access the situation. On Tuesday, Kirstin flew in from CT.  Deb and Dyan and Danin (Bill's granddaughter) arrived later in the week.

We are taking one day at a time and we are taking every small step as an accomplishment.  The path that this will take is that Bill will remain in the ICU until he is stable enough to be on his own.  He will either step down to a critical care floor or the hospital floor.  The next step is being released to intensive rehab (back in Lancaster).  We are working with the VCU doctors and social workers to figure out when it is safe to move him to Lancaster.  That is where his support system is - Donna, Deb, Dyan, Dana, his grandchildren - and we can help and take turns visiting him and working with him and also helping and supporting Donna.  Kirstin is playing an instrumental role as she is the light and twinkle in Bill's eyes.  She is proudly and unapologetically, Daddy's girl and it is evident that Bill lights up in her presence.  "No other love in the world is like the love of a father has for his little girl."  She has spent many hours at the hospital in these past few days sitting by Bill's side, holding his hand, talking with him, telling him about his grandchildren, his past and making the connection between the past and the future. And when he come home to Lancaster, she is just a short plane ride away for her to visit.

For the next week or two or three... Donna will be in Richmond and all the kids will cycle back and forth to visit Bill and help Donna navigate this most challenging time.  Please say a prayer for Bill and for Donna. This is frightening and so very heartbreaking and we are trying our best to hold it together.  We have a long road ahead.

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