KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A man once known affectionately around Kansas City as the “Salsa King” is now in a Miami, Fla., hospital, after being seriously hurt in a motorcycle accident last month.
Now his family and friends are trying to raise enough money to bring him home so he can recover near his loved ones.
His name is Howard Carney. He’s a Kansas City native, father of five, former Kansas City Police Dept. detective and a Marine veteran. He's a guy who friends believe would do anything for those he loved.
“He was a very lively, independent person,” said Angie Urban, Carney’s sister, via a Skype interview from the ICU in Miami Friday night.
Dancing was Carney’s true passion, and his smooth moves on the dance floor earned him the reputation of “Salsa King” around the metro. It’s also what pushed him to move to Miami recently, where he became a full-time salsa instructor.
But on Oct. 14, the music stopped. A police report shows a driver admitted to looking down at his phone when he rear-ended Carney on his motorcycle on a Miami causeway.
“He pushed Howard and his motorcycle about a quarter of a mile,” Urban recalled.
Carney went into a coma, suffering brain trauma, fractured ribs and a punctured lung.
“I was scared,” Urban said of that day. “I was really scared that I was going to have to make decisions to pull the plug because I knew that he was on life support.”
Over the past few weeks, Carney has slowly began to recover. He is no longer in a coma and can form short sentences, but struggles with memory loss and breathing issues.
“Howard is very independent, and to see him be helpless, that’s the hardest part for me,” Urban said.
Making things harder is the distance that now separates Carney and his loved ones in Kansas City.
“We do what best friends do,” said Jerry Bayton, Carney’s best friend. “We’re just there for each other.”
For a long time, Carney has been there for Bayton, who is battling cancer, and more than anything, Bayton would like to return the favor.
"I felt helpless,” Bayton said. “He’s so far away and I can’t fly commercial. He needs to be near his friends and family. We’ve got to get him home.”
They’re now trying to do that by raising the $25,000 needed for a special medical flight to Kansas City.
So far, they've raised nearly $5,000, and they're not giving up until the “Salsa King” is back where he belongs.
“It’s going to be the most important thing to happen to us in a long time if he can get home,” Urban said.
If you want to help Carney and his family, see the links below:
To donate: http://www.gofundme.com/howardcarney
To follow his journey: https://www.facebook.com/howardcarneyIII