Paralyzed Island Lake trustee is improving, wife says
An Island Lake trustee paralyzed in a November all-terrain vehicle crash is improving but remains hospitalized.
Trustee Will Ziegler is breathing on his own after months with a tracheostomy tube, his wife, Vicki, said Tuesday. He's back to an unrestricted diet, too.
"Will is getting stronger every day," his wife said. "He is doing quite well. He is determined to continue to work and walk again."
Ziegler suffered a crushed spinal cord, a fractured skull and multiple broken bones in the wreck, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down. The crash occurred the day before Thanksgiving in North Carolina.
Ziegler is undergoing rehabilitation, including speech therapy and physical therapy, at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago.
"We do not know how he will heal, as every spinal cord injury is different," his wife said. "He is going through intensive therapy and will continue after he leaves Shirley Ryan. We are hopeful that he will regain most, if not all, of (his) lost functionality."
Trustee Chris Carlsen said Ziegler was in good spirits when they last spoke about two weeks ago.
"He's goofing around, making jokes," Carlsen said. "I think he's doing good."
As of Tuesday afternoon, supporters have given nearly $29,000 to the Ziegler family through gofundme.com. The money will be used to remodel the family's house to accommodate Ziegler's needs and to purchase a wheelchair-accessible van.
Another fundraiser was held Monday at a Culver's restaurant in Island Lake.
"We are forever grateful for all the thoughts, prayers, well wishes, donations (and) support we have received," Vicki Ziegler said. "We are not ones to ask for help, and it has been very hard for us to ask for help."
Ziegler, who works for a medical equipment company called iRhythm Technologies, has been a village trustee for about a year. He was appointed to fill a vacancy in January 2019 and was elected to a 4-year term in April.
Ziegler hasn't attended any board meetings since the accident, but officials haven't discussed asking him to resign, Mayor Charles Amrich said.
Vicki Ziegler hopes her husband can return home at the end of February and resume his trustee duties afterward.
"He loves his village and wants the best for it," she said.
If needed, Ziegler will be allowed to participate in board meetings by telephone or computer.
"That's probably good medicine for him," Amrich said. "We miss him."