The family of a Scotch Plains teen injured during a school trip in Israel is seeking financial assistance to help defray medical costs that may not be covered by insurance.
Steven Langer, 18, took a misstep and fell 18 feet while hiking on a trail near Eilat on April 28, sustaining multiple injuries to his left leg, including multiple fractures and a torn meniscus.
He was with other 12th-graders from Golda Och Academy in West Orange during the last few weeks of their semester-long stay in Israel.
According to his father, Ian, it took paratroopers two-and-a-half hours to reach him and transport him safely off the trail in Timna Park, a popular hiking destination for Israelis and tourists. After being taken to a hospital in Eilat, Langer was transported to Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem.
His mother, Karen, flew to Israel the next day. On May 4, he had the first of what is expected to be several surgeries.
In the meantime, Steven’s brother, David, 25, launched a GoFundMe campaign. The campaign’s goal is $10,000 for “financial assistance to help cover the costs of [Steven’s] medical bills and for the transportation to/from Israel as well as his recovery & physical therapy stateside when he returns.”
Although Ian called the campaign “uncomfortable” and “awkward” for a family that at one time was happy to be on the donating end, he acknowledged that at this point it is “probably necessary.”
Ian said, “My wife and I do not normally go asking for help. We’re usually the first to give time or money. Now we’re on the other end, and it feels awkward. It’s not our style. We try to be self-sufficient.” He said David launched the appeal “because he wanted to help.”
Steven is now in a full leg cast, and may need further surgery either on his knee or to correct injuries to his ankle and foot.
According to officials at Golda Och Academy, students in the Israel program are fully covered for medical expenses. The school has also been receiving donations from members of the community on the Langers’ behalf.
In the meantime, Steven’s father worries about all the things insurance may not cover, and with 31 years in a health profession and having weathered another family medical crisis, he knows enough to be concerned. The costs will include a business-class ticket home so Steven can travel with a full leg cast, Karen’s last-minute flight to Israel and her hotel expenses, transportation to the hospitals, follow-up care, and physical therapy.
Of the incident itself, Langer said, “It just came out of nowhere. It’s shocking. But that’s why they have trip insurance. Accidents happen. He was having a great time and is going to graduate in about three weeks.”
Although Steven will not be able to rejoin his classmates for the remainder of the trip, Ian said he hopes he will be home in time for graduation. “He better be able to come to graduation!” he joked.
Steven is planning to attend the University of Maryland in the fall, and participate in the Air Force ROTC program. “He really wants to be an Air Force pilot. If there was no Air Force, he wouldn’t apply,” said Ian, adding that he doesn’t know if the injuries will interfere with his son’s plans.
Steven is himself an EMT who has worked with the Scotch Plains Rescue Squad since 2013. “Now he’s having the experience of what this is like from the other end,” said his father.
Ian said he is also pleased with the school’s response so far. “They’ve been very good about helping out, assisting with medical care, hotel arrangements, and transportation for my wife,” he said.
The campaign on GoFundMe, launched on May 3, had raised over $3,500 by midday May 4.
The site can be found at gofundme.com/stevenlanger; Golda Och Academy is also accepting donations.