Account Of Berg/Van Breda Accident
by Rob Dinerman

June 12, 2003 -In the wake of the severe injuries sustained in Cuba on June 1st by the girlfriend of Canadian singles and doubles squash star Viktor Berg, the
National Squash Training Center (NSTC), based in Toronto, has established a trust
fund geared towards the formidable medical and additional expenses that are
already accumulating.

Morgan van Breda, 24, a graphics designer and multi-media artist, has been paralyzed from injuries sustained when the steel post of a portable soccer goal came crashing onto her back, fracturing two vertebrae and severing her spinal cord.

She was airlifted by a private Cessna plane back to her native Calgary two days later and surgery was performed at the Foot Hills Hospital that weekend. The six-hour operation, which entailed the reconstruction of her back with titanium bolts, pins and screws, was deemed a success, but van Breda faces a minimum seven-week hospital stay and extensive physical therapy for an indefinite time thereafter. At present there are grave doubts as to whether she will even be able to walk again, much less return to the active lifestyle and vibrancy that recently landed her a part in the upcoming movie "Dawn Of The Dead" and that was such a major element of her entire pre-injury self-presentation.

Indeed, it would be difficult to find a couple that more exudes a sense of irrepressible spirit, optimism and happy energy than do Berg and van Breda, his constant companion throughout the ISDA and PSA tournament schedules over the past two years, which makes what befell them just hours after landing in Cuba for the start of their much-anticipated vacation all the more shocking and cruelly ironic.

Complicating matters further in the frantic first few hours and days after the accident were the language barrier, the physical distance of the isolated resort area from Havana (the nearest major city), which delayed the arrival of an "ambulance"(actually just a regular van with a mattress in back) preceding a 90-minute drive over bumpy roads back to Havana, the unavailability of medication and the political and bureaucratic shoals that had to be navigated by the Canadian Embassy in Havana government for a private Canadian plane even to be allowed to land in Cuba for what turned out to be a 15-hour trip to Calgary

NSTC President Michael Manley and Managing Director (and noted coach) Mike Way responded immediately on behalf of van Breda, who was uncovered by any insurance plan at the time of the episode, and Berg, a participant in the NSTC program for the past half-dozen years and the No. 1 player on the Canadian squad that won the 2002 Pan American Federation Cup in Ecuador last summer.

A web site,, was up and running by late last week, and
donations (including one from a close family friend of the Bergs that covered the
entire $40,000 cost of the airlift), as well as a flood of emails from friends, colleagues and family members have been pouring in ever since in an extraordinary show of encouragement, affection and support.

Those wishing to contribute to the NSTC Trust Fund can send their donations to The NSTC Trust Fund, Suite 1800, 8 King Street East, Toronto, Ontario M5C 1B5. Checks should be made out to the NSTC In Trust For Viktor Berg. Mr. Manley will oversee the funds, which will be placed in a term deposit account to be drawn upon as dictated by the couple's expense needs, which figure to be considerable for some time to come. A "Celebration Of Life" Benefit is being planned for June 25th in Calgary, and 32 corporate sponsors have already signed up. Details of this and other such events are available on the web site that bears van Breda's name.

In addition to the heroic role the 25-year-old Berg played last summer in Ecuador, he won his first-ever PSA tournament title last month (via a 17-16 fifth-game final over Mark Heather in Atlanta) and currently is ranked a career-best No. 44 on that circuit. He and Willie Hosey earned the No. 2 team ISDA doubles ranking in 2001-2002, reaching six finals in the process, and this past season he teamed with Josh McDonald to reach four ISDA finals, including the $100,000 Briggs Cup, the biggest prize-money doubles tournament in North American squash history, while earning the No. 4 end-of-season team ranking.


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