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Whistler raising funds for local hurt in crash

Over $7,500 raised for Miki Kudo, who remains in coma following February accident

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Friends and coworkers of Miki Kudo, who was severely injured in a car accident last month, are banding together to raise money for the Whistler local's recovery.

The 38-year-old native of Japan suffered massive head trauma on Feb. 1 after her car slid into oncoming traffic on Highway 99 and was struck by a southbound van. She was airlifted to a Vancouver hospital, where she remains in a coma.

The longtime local is a nine-year employee of Samurai Sushi, where she worked as a cook and at the front counter, and friends, family and coworkers have already raised over $7,500 to support Kudo and her husband, Takumi, who also works at the restaurant.

"She means a lot to us," said Samurai Sushi owner Ru Mehta. "She is always laughing ... She's just a very nice, outgoing and positive person."

Donations have poured in from as far away as Australia and Kudo's native Japan, and Mehta spoke to the impact her accident has had on the tightknit community of Japanese ex-pats in Whistler.

"When people move to Whistler they develop their own little families here because they've left their own families behind somewhere, but it's even a stronger bond for the Japanese people here because it's a totally different culture and language here," he said. "They rely on each other for everything."

While there's no set goal, Mehta is hopeful to raise at least $10,000 in financial assistance for Kudo and her husband.

"It looks at this point like whatever state Miki gets to, it's going to require long-term care," he added. "There's not a lot of coverage through ICBC, and she has extended medical, but it doesn't look like there will be a lot of money coming from those things."

On April 6, the Nesters and Creekside Samurai Sushi locations will donate 100 per cent of profits and employee wages and tips to Kudo. That night, Roland's Pub, where Takumi works part-time, will also host a fundraising event and raffle.

To donate, visit www.mikiandtakumi.com.

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