“Everybody’s turned on me” Mountain biker’s barbed wire encounter scrutinized
Published Friday, July 14, 2017 5:11PM MDT
Last Updated Friday, July 14, 2017 6:38PM MDT
A 37-year-old Calgary man says he has stopped answering his phone and has closed his GoFundMe fundraising campaign after people began to question the legitimacy of the injuries he sustained on a trail in West Bragg Creek.
“I closed (the campaign) down because I couldn’t take all this badgering, people slamming my name and stuff,” Stelianos 'Stelios' Psaroudakis told CTV Calgary on Friday.
The mountain biker was riding with an unnamed friend on a trail in West Bragg Creek on the evening of July 5.
“I was going down a hill and, as soon as I looked up, there was something in my peripheral and it was barbed wire,” recounted Psaroudakis. “I had no time to react and I got it into the neck. I flew back, I fell on my back and I hit my back on a rock.”
“We walked back. We got to the car and my friend drove me to the hospital and that was it.”
Psaroudakis says his actions have been unfairly scrutinized. “People are like ‘Why’d you leave the bike there?’. I couldn’t even hardly walk. Why would I take the bike? I’m not thinking about my bike. Who cares? My life is more important than anything.”
An attempt to recover the bike by an undisclosed party was unfruitful.
The mountain biker, a self-described fast healer, was released from the Foothills Medical Centre but he continues to recover from his injuries. “(Cuts) around the neck and, on my back, hematoma and then I have a cut on my liver,” said Psaroudakis. “It’s bad.”
Members of the Cochrane RCMP detachment are investigating the incident.
Psaroudakis created a GoFundMe campaign entitled ‘Almost died on trail by barbed wire’ with a goal of raising $8,000.
“I got hurt and I thought ‘Holy crap. How am I going to pay my rent? How am I going to pay for the food right now for my daughter? How am I going to take care of stuff?’ I can’t so I have to go and do a GoFundMe.”
When Psaroudakis closed the campaign, it had raised more than $850. GoFundMe officials say the campaign garnered complaints and the funds will not be released until an investigation into the matter is conducted.
The mechanic, who is married and has a two-year-old daughter, says he planned to use the $8,000 on rent, groceries and bills and to purchase deer cams, motion sensor camera, for the trail. His fundraising goal, an amount that appeared to reference his evaluation of his bike, has been questioned on social media and online forums.
“I don’t need a new bike,” said Psaroudakis. “I don’t even want a bike no more. I’m going to have bikers spit on me because they think I’m lying.”
“Everybody’s turned on me. It’s terrible.”
Psaroudakis posted news of his ordeal on social media but he wasn’t certain of the name of the trail he had been riding on. He says he was informed that the trail was Merlin Trail, a path where barbed wire had been spotted, and he assumed the information was correct and began to circulate it.
“I made a mistake. It’s not Merlin Trail,” said Psaroudakis. “It’s right off the highway but there was no parking where I went. There was no picnic tables.”
“Now they’re calling me a liar because I gave them the right information and they gave me the wrong information.”
The 37-year-old says he has stopped answering his phone after receiving a number of calls questioning his crash.
“I’m tired,” said Psaroudakis. “I talk to one news people, I talk to police and then I get mashed everywhere because there’s four or five people that don’t like me in Calgary for no reason - because I have a fast car and I’m not afraid to say it.”
He says the criticisms have snowballed. ““Let’s jump on the bandwagon and make fun of Stelianos.”
The ‘Almost died on trail by barbed wire’ was not Psaroudakis’ first attempt at raising funds through GoFundMe.
The Calgarian created a campaign earlier this year to help get his pet dog back.
“This year has been terrible for me. There’s not much work so I didn’t have any money to pull her out of the SPCA right away so I made a GoFundMe to get my dog back. People were telling me it could cost you up to $1,000, I didn’t know that it doesn’t cost that much.”
In 2016, Psaroudakis attempted to collect money to help rebuild Fort McMurray after the wildfires.
“I’m the only one that put money in the Fort Mac fundraiser. I was trying to raise money for Fort Mac. I was going to go down there and help out too if I can. But to do that, I needed money for gas and to buy food and to give money to people that lost their houses.”
Psaroudakis says he was the only one to contribute to his Fort McMurray campaign.
The injured man says he is scheduled to return to the site of the crash with members of the RCMP on Friday evening.
With files from CTV’s Chris Epp