Luling resident James Kynerd and his family are still reeling from an unusual vehicular accident occurring in late August, the physical aftereffects having made a life-altering change in all of their lives.
On August 26 at around 5:30 a.m., just before most St. Charles Parish residents rise in the morning, Kynerd, 60, left his home and began traveling down St. Anthony Street on his Suzuki motorcycle. He was out early to complete his weekly ritual of teaching at a local karate studio, where he holds a third-degree black belt.
Unfortunately for Kynerd, a dually truck towing a two-car carrier trailer was just ahead of him. Residential camera footage later showed the truck’s load struck a low-hanging cable, clipped by what appears may have been a Ford F-150 the auto carrier was carrying on top. Because Kynerd was driving behind the truck, when the cable broke free and whipped backward, it struck him in his exposed throat area with extreme force.
“He was clotheslined off the bike,” Vanessa Kynerd, James’ wife, said. “It totally obliterated his trachea; he had extreme difficulty breathing and was in full-blown respiratory failure.”
James’ spouse Vanessa Kynerd, 61, said video shows the truck driver stopping and getting out of his vehicle, checking behind him, then driving off. Police thus far have not been able to identify the vehicle using the limited residential camera footage capturing the incident.
Dennis Street, a local critical care nurse who happened to be passing by, saw Kynerd bleeding and in dire need of help, and immediately jumped into action. Recognizing Kynerd may have had just minutes left to live in his injured state, Street placed Kynerd into his own vehicle and drove him directly to the local hospital, saving his life.
Kynerd was given emergency care and airlifted to University Hospital. His trachea injury has since stabilized but has led to a few severe complications; the first hurdle to arrive following the accident was a blood clot, which shortly afterwards was followed by a massive stroke.
“It was called a watershed stroke, so it was a long recovery – 38 days in the hospital, where he went to rehab,” Vanessa Kynerd explained, speaking with the experience of having been a registered nurse for 25 years.
James slowly recovered, was still on a feeding tube when he was initially sent home – only to later encounter more medical complications. He went into cardiac arrest while at home, was hospitalized again in early November, and now remains in a coma.
“He is currently receiving hyperbaric treatment – it’s considered ‘off-label’ – for a study of 10 days, and we have seen some progress,” his wife Vanessa said.
Transportation costs alone to and from the hospital where he receives the special treatment have cost around $1,000 per day, and the expensive ‘off-label’ treatment is not covered by the Kynerds’ medical insurance provider.
“He’s made some progress – he actually bent his left knee today while he was in the hyperbaric chamber,” Vanessa Kynerd said on Wednesday of last week, progress the family had not seen until first beginning the treatment.
With the truck driver appearing to be involved in the incident nowhere to be found, Kynerd’s own motorcycle insurance policy only had collision related coverage, and thus had no coverage for the devastating injury, which has left him in a coma and suffering from numerous complications.
Kynerd moved with his wife to Luling from Jefferson Parish shortly before Hurricane Ida struck in 2021. The couple had moved to St. Charles Parish to live closer to their daughter and grandchildren, who now live in Luling.
The recent accident has left Vanessa caring for her husband with significant financial strain following her husband’s medical complications and various uncovered medical procedures.
A family friend recently started a GoFundMe account to benefit the Kynerd family, in an effort to offset the heavy burden of medical expenses the Kynerds now face. For more details or to donate to the Kynerd family, visit www.GoFundMe.com under the account titled “James Kynerd’s Hyperbaric Healing Journey.”