Howard Carney has cheated death twice.
But he’s going to need help from the Kansas City dance community that he helped cultivate to make a full recovery this time.
Carney is in a Miami hospital with a traumatic brain injury and a respiratory condition that contributed to his needing to be resuscitated last weekend. The injuries are from a car crash in mid-October. A driver who admitted being distracted by his cell phone slammed into Carney’s motorcycle. Carney spent about a week in a coma, but is awake now and speaking. He’ll need a medical flight to return home to Kansas City.
Carney is a former Kansas City police officer and the metro’s unofficial salsa king. There are likely hundreds of people in the area who owe their dance skills to his lessons. My tango certainly benefited from his patience.
The full extent of his injuries won’t be known for nine months, when he will undergo a process called brain mapping, said his older sister, Angie Carney of Kansas City, Kan. She’s been at his side since the accident and, this week, lost her job because of her absence.
But she’s coordinating fundraising through a Facebook page (Howard Carney come back to the party) and on Go Fund Me, gofundme.com/howardcarney. About $7,000 has been raised; about $25,000 more is needed.
Carney has insurance. But the flight isn’t covered, and travel by ambulance is too risky. One of his current nurses has volunteered to accompany him on the flight.
A Miami police report found no fault with Carney, but notes that he wasn’t wearing a helmet when the other driver, speeding at 80 mph, plowed into him.
Carney not only taught dance with a passion, he persuaded owners of clubs to allow salsa, swing and tango nights and then cultivated the crowds to fill the spaces. Carney could coax even the most bashful onto the dance floor and also offer tips to spice up the most experienced dancer’s steps.
He’s a fighter. Carney could have easily died 12 years ago. His aorta splintered, shredding as if it were a fragile piece of paper. Doctors said death was averted only by his lack of hesitancy in heading to the emergency room at St. Luke’s Hospital, where staff realized what was happening and rushed him surgery. Regaining his strength took months, but Carney came back to dancing.
About two years ago, he moved to Miami. But he stayed in close contact with the salsa community here, often returning for dances.
Carney’s 49th birthday is Friday. A donation would be the perfect gift.