Motorcycle wreck turns couple's lives upside down

It's going to be a difficult Christmas this year for a Dayton couple. Almost as difficult as Halloween.

On Oct. 31, just about dusk, Dale Jacobsen of the Mark Twain Estates was riding his motorcycle, taking a curve a little too fast, when the bike veered off of V&T Way, flipped and slammed him into the ground.

That momentary judgment lapse didn't just overturn the motorcycle - it turned his world and wife, Kathy's, upside down as well.

Dale, 52, spent the next four weeks in Washoe Medical Center's intensive care unit with a broken back. Now permanently paralyzed, he has been transferred to Tahoe Pacific Hospital in South Reno, where he struggles to speak through the effects of a tracheotomy. He has started to take soft foods like milk shakes and puddings, but most of his nourishment comes through a feeding tube. He is conscious, finally, but only getting about 50 percent of the oxygen his body needs.

"He'll be there until they can get him off the ventilator," Kathy said. "Then they will send him to rehab in Santa Clara, Calif., or San Francisco."

Dale and Kathy each have had a motorcycle for about a year, and she said they both enjoyed riding. Now, Dale will be riding in a wheelchair and Kathy is trying to figure out how to meet their financial needs.

Their house payments are deducted from her state paycheck - Kathy is an administrative assistant for the Nevada Department of Transportation - but it took Dale's earnings as a bartender at the East 50 Bar in Dayton to cover other expense, such as utility bills. Now Kathy, 47, who has taken on a few of her husband's shifts at the bar, has to try to do it all, while still finding time to spend with her injured husband.

With no family in a position to help - they have two kids, 23 and 21 - Kathy is struggling to keep their heads above water.

She has medical insurance from her job, but the family will have to pay for COBRA insurance for Dale.

"I'm not sure what it will cost because it takes so long to process everything," she said. "The part that's going to kill me is the bills. The utility bills are more than I can take."

Kathy applied for Social Security disability for Dale immediately after the accident, but has been told that process will take at least six months and possibly a lot more.

In addition, she will now have to remodel their home to make it wheelchair-accessible.

She has a plan, but is short the resources. Needing help does not come easy to either one of them. A bank account has been set up for the couple's extra expenses, and the East 50 held a fundraiser.

"I feel kind of weird talking about it, but what else do you do," she said. "There's no help for anyone."

The0 pair married 23 years ago, after he had lived in Dayton for about a year. Kathy has been a Dayton resident since 1971. She can take time out from her two jobs to visit Dale only about three or four times a week.

"Now that he's awake, he can call once in a while, when they set up the talkie box," she said.

They'll spend Christmas together, both hoping for the best, but Kathy will go home alone, wondering how to make do until things turn around.

You can help

A bank account has been set up for Dale Jacobsen's expenses at Nevada State Bank, account no. 0530040260.

• Contact reporter Karen Woodmansee at or 882-2111 ext. 351.


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