Orcas resident in ICU after head-on collision | GoFundMe campaign has raised more than $70k

After Luka Palisaede suffered severe injuries in a head-on collision, the Orcas community sprang into action.

A GoFundMe campaign has raised more than $70,000 to help with medical expenses, and the use of a home in Bellingham has been gifted to a group of friends who have been by Palisaede’s side since the accident.

“We are so grateful for the support this community (and beyond!) has given — thank you,” said close friend Heather Kathryne.

On Tuesday, Jan. 4, Palisaede was driving on Orcas road when they lost control of their car due to icy road conditions. Palisaede’s vehicle struck an oncoming truck head-on. The other driver and passengers did not sustain injuries but Palisaede was unresponsive upon EMS arrival. They were intubated, resuscitated and flown off-island to St. Joseph’s Hospital. They remain in critical condition in a medically-induced coma.

Kathryne and her partner Jake Perrine along with Grace McCune, Greg Ripley and Jared Lovejoy are staying in Bellingham to advocate for Palisaede, who does not have family members nearby. Due to COVID restrictions, it’s been challenging to see Palisaede in person but the nursing staff has facilitated daily Facetime calls. Perrine and Kathryne say the nurses have been “superheroes.”

The friends started a GoFundMe campaign (https://www.gofundme.com/f/luka-palisaede-medical-expenses) and have been providing daily updates on Palisaede’s condition. A Spotify music playlist was created for Palisaede to listen to in the ICU on donated speakers and an iPad.

Palisaede, whose previous name was Stephen Fairweather, is a gifted piano player and music teacher known to Orcas audiences for their participation in theatre productions and a solo show streamed live from Orcas Center, which can be viewed at https://vimeo.com/459592074. They are also an animal lover and parent to a handful of beloved cats.

Palisaede’s friends are encouraging islanders to “pray hard and love deep.”

“Our feeling right now is that Luka is a little lost and drawn to Orcas because that’s where the energy is coming from,” Kathryne said.