Beyond the Legal Limit

Surviving a Collision with a Drunk Driver

By Pat Henman

Categories: Memoir
Imprint: Caitlin Press
Paperback : 9781773860497, 192 pages, February 2021

Description

On a sunny Sunday afternoon in June 2013, performer and singer Pat Henman, was driving home on the highway with her 19-year-old daughter, Maia, when they were struck head-on by a drunk driver. Pat and Maia's injuries were too complicated and life-threatening for the small hospital in Cranbrook, and they were flown to Calgary. Pat was revived four times, and her family was told to prepare for the worst. Maia had multiple breaks of all four limbs and the doctors had to induce her into a coma for more than a week. Both women spent months in the hospital recovering and undergoing major surgery. Pat had nineteen surgeries in the first week alone and Maia, a first-year university student, was left permanently disabled. This was the beginning of a long and painful struggle for their entire family.

 

But as Pat and Maia were rehabilitating and trying to adapt to new routines, the family's life became engulfed in the confusing world of insurance settlements, a criminal trial against the impaired driver, and a broken legal system. Pat writes candidly about the accident and their family's ongoing struggle in a powerful memoir demanding justice not just for her family, but for all victims.

 

Among the grief and anguish is a story of resilience, and recovery. Pat, with damaged vocal chords from the breathing tubes and a permanent broken shoulder with limited range, was told she was unlikely to perform again. But with determination and retraining in her late fifties, she has slowly returned to her passion--the stage. This is a story that reveals how love, community support and the compassion of many, including strangers, can be the path to survival.

Reviews

"Beyond the Legal Limit is a skillfully told account of a life-altering car crash and its harrowing aftermath. The reader is given a bedside seat for a vivid and relentless journey through the medical system before witnessing the legal aftermath that threatened to re-victimize both Pat and her daughter Maia. A raw and personal account, this memoir poses important questions about how we do justice and should be required reading for every medical and legal professional."

--Katy Hutchison, author of Walking After Midnight: One Woman's Journey Through Murder, Justice and Forgiveness

"Pat Henman provides an unflinching and brutally honest account of the impact that impaired driving can have on the human body. But the deeper story here is the strength of the human spirit; Pat didn't just survive her catastrophic injuries, she is living in spite of them. She is inspirational to so many people as she also holds her experience up as a stark warning about the human cost of impaired driving. The harsh reality is that Pat's experience is sadly far too common. Impaired driving remains one of the leading causes of criminal death in Canada and injures tens of thousands of people every year. Maybe if every driver in Canada read Beyond the Legal Limit, we could eliminate impaired driving completely."

--Steve Sullivan, Director of Victim Services, MADD Canada

"When Pat Henman and her daughter Maia were struck by a drunk driver their injuries were cataclysmic. Pat wasn't expected to survive. Instead--incredibly--she lived. Beyond the Legal Limit is the story of how that happened and it's compelling--the out of body experience of near death, and then the shock and agony of returning to a body vastly traumatized. It's the story of how a person who suddenly can't move, or eat, or read retains her selfhood and identity. It's a psychological journey through immense change and anger. It's about being the victim of a vile crime and reconciling that reality with justice. It's a journey toward acceptance. And ultimately it's an astonishing story of recovery and family and love."

--Brent Bambury, host of CBC Day 6

"What does the bottom line resemble when your life has been shattered by an act of violence? Pat draws the reader into a journey nothing could have prepared her for. Every day, on average, 4 Canadians are killed and 175 are injured in impaired-related crashes. Not every victim or survivor has the opportunity or the strength to tell their story. For victims of crime, justice is illusive as they battle with systems and institutions whose priorities are balanced against their interests. Pat's story is a grueling account of how victims and survivors blindly enter an arena of competing systematic priorities hoping for the scales to be balanced, needing to have their voices heard, and having their sense of justice shattered. Pat offers a moving account of loss and grief, determination, and resiliency as we are drawn into an experience you have no control over."

--Celine Lee, survivor of violent crime and Chairperson of the Pacific Region Victim Advisory Council

"Beyond the Legal Limit is a skillfully told account of a life-altering car crash and its harrowing aftermath. The reader is given a bedside seat for a vivid and relentless journey through the medical system before witnessing the legal aftermath that threatened to re-victimize both Pat and her daughter Maia. A raw and personal account, this memoir poses important questions about how we do justice and should be required reading for every medical and legal professional."

--Katy Hutchison, author of Walking After Midnight: One Woman's Journey Through Murder, Justice and Forgiveness