SOUTHAMPTON – Scott McKee has always been willing to step up and help people in his community. He never expected to be the one in need.
The long-time Southampton Service Centre owner received a traumatic head injury while working on a tractor this past summer, an injury he is still trying to recover from. Meanwhile, the bills keep coming, and the community offered him a helping hand this past weekend.
“I know what it’s like being an entrepreneur – difficult and stressful,” said Brad Siddall, who owns and operates Runaway Lane Farms up the street. “When you add an injury like what happened to Scott to the mix, it’s near impossible.”
It was July 28, and McKee was working at his garage just like any other day. He had been tuning up an antique tractor for one of his customers, and the tractor had a three-point hitch in the rear that could be manually lifted and lowered with a large lever. The lever was powered by two large springs.
McKee was looking over the back wheel of the tractor to see about another job he was going to do on it, when he accidentally placed his hand on the lever, and it released.
“It came back and hit me in the head, and the nose piece of my glasses broke a piece out of my nose and shoved it up into my brain,” he said. “It knocked me down and I stood up, blood was coming everywhere, and I fell down. When I went to get up the second time, the lights went foggy, and I fell again… the next thing I remember was waking up in Halifax.”
His wife had been watching from the doorway when he was struck, and she called 911. He was airlifted to the hospital in Halifax with a severe concussion.
Three months later, McKee is on the road to recovery, but far from the end of that road. Due to swelling, the piece of bone from his nose has still not been removed from his brain, and doctors are hoping to be able to repair that by January. He still suffers from seizures, memory loss, and his balance, sometimes falling down.
Although he can’t work yet, he still dresses the part, and goes to the garage everyday from his home next door. He wants his customers to know he is still there. For the first two months, his workers would help him walk over, so he would not fall down.
“I thought I had taken all the right moves… I had insurance,” he said. “Because I’m self-employed, I don’t get worker’s compensation. But I’ve been fighting with the insurance companies, and it hasn’t been good.”
He has watched his business go from bringing in $10-15,000 worth of business each week to $1,000. Meanwhile, one of his two workers had a recent heart attack, and is off work indefinitely.
“My parents wanted me to shut the place down, but I said, when I’m better, all of my customers will have gone elsewhere,” said McKee. “I’d rather lose money than lose everybody.”
His struggles did not go unnoticed by the community.
“I had been in on a few different occasions and noticed that he was not well,” said Siddall. “He looked like he needed to rest, but was working to pay the bills. We felt if we could raise him some money to help, even if it only covered the cost of bills for one month, it would give him much needed rest and lower the stress level for him.”
At first, McKee had resisted the idea of a benefit. But when community members saw him suffer one of his seizures first hand, they told him they were going to do it with or without his permission.
One by one, they told him how he had helped them out in the past. There was the person he gave gasoline to when they had no money. Another who couldn’t afford their repair bill, and he told them they could pay later. Yet another whose house had burned down, and he collected money for them.
“At every community event to raise money, Scott is always there helping where he can,” said Siddall.
With that in mind, he contacted local musician Mike Fisher to see if he would play at a benefit dance. Fisher, one of many who had been helped by McKee in the past, was all too happy to do it. Casey Hamel and Hannah Siddall also agreed to play, and many others stepped forward to ask how they could help.
At the end of the night, more than $7,000 was raised.
McKee, who was not able to attend the event because noise and motion can cause seizures for him, said the money would help him keep his shop open. He explained that his initial refusal of the help was just a matter of pride.
“It was embarrassing at first, but it’s humbling now,” he said. “I really appreciate it.”
It showed Siddall how everyone from all over will come together to help those in need.
“It’s one of the reasons I love living in an area like this one,” he said. “If you are good to the people, the people will be good to you.”