Surrounded by love
December 5, 2013

Natasha Hope-Simpson laughs as she shares that there are actually a lot of positives to having only one leg.

“I only have to wax one leg now,” she says. “And I’m sure I’ll be able to get half price on a pedicure.”

Musician and artist Natasha Hope Simpson was injured in a hit-and-run collision on November 2.
Natasha (BFA 2013) has the kind of smile that lights up a room – in this case a hospital room at the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre. It’s been her home since a hit-and-run collision on November 2 led to the amputation of her left leg below the knee.

As she remembers it, she was walking to her car in a darkened parking lot after seeing a Cuban band with her dad Ian Hope-Simpson at a Wolfville pub. As she passed through a row of parked cars, one of them turned on its lights, revved its engine and drove into her, pinning her leg between two vehicles. Then, the driver backed up and tried to drive off, but another car was entering the lot, so the driver abandoned the vehicle and ran away on foot. Natasha’s cries for help were heard by a group of passing Acadia students.

The RCMP is interested in talking to anyone who may have information about the hit-and-run, which happened at about 11:20 p.m. on Nov. 2 near the Subway parking lot in Wolfville. (See a story on the investigation in The Kings County Registrar.)

From the beginning, with some difficult decisions ahead of her, Natasha resolved to be upbeat and look for the silver lining. “It’s a big thing to deal with but there’s no point in taking it badly, otherwise it’s going to be so much harder to get through,” she says.

Since that night, the 23-year-old artist has undergone eight surgeries. She’s learning how to get around using crutches and a walker and will soon be fitted for a prosthetic leg. Her sister Jasmine Almeida and brother Rudi Brooks have initiated an online fundraising campaign to assist with the cost. In just two weeks, they’ve raised about half of their $50,000 goal.

Members of the Wolfville community where Natasha grew up and moved back to after graduation held a benefit evening at the Gaspereau Community Hall last Saturday and raised $13,000. At the time of the accident, Natasha was working at the Gaspereau Valley Fibres’ new shop The Wool n’ Tart, and finding a way to continue her ceramic art practice.

She feels surrounded by love, from her family, her community, even from total strangers.  And she thinks often of her friend Lyell Cook, a NSCAD student who took a year off of his studies to travel, and died after a freak accident in Bangalore, India in 2009. He was hanging up a towel to dry when it hit a live wire and he was electrocuted. A scholarship for a student studying sculpture at NSCAD is named in his honor.

“He was the most positive person I have ever met and I feel that he’s been here with me this entire time. I know he’d want me to be positive through this.” She adds with a shrug: “If I was going to lose a limb, my left leg was the limb to lose. I need my right leg for driving and my hands for making art. I figure I’m not so bad off.”

Meanwhile, Natasha’s time in hospital has given her time to reflect on what she’d like to do next—another silver lining. She’s thinking she’d like to be an art therapist, so is planning on doing a year of pre-requisites in psychology at Acadia and then applying to a graduate program at Concordia University in Montreal.

“It seems to be the way that I can be an artist and help people through my art,” she says.

One of Natasha Hope Simpson's ceramic pieces. (Photo courtesy Natasha Hope-Simpson.)