A Dakota Access pipeline protestor may lose her arm following an explosion on Monday morning. The protestor, identified as Sophia Wilansky from New York, was behind a blockade at 4 a.m. when an explosion ripped through her jacket and skin, broke her arm, and damaged arteries, nerves and muscle. Wilansky was airlifted 400 miles to Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis.
Speaking to the New York Daily News, Wilansky’s friend and fellow protestor Vaimoana Niumeitolu said it was a concussion grenade fired by police that caused the explosion. “They’re trying to see if her arm can be saved,” she said.
“The best-case scenario is no pain and 10-20 percent functionality,” said Wilansky’s father, Wayne, speaking to The Guardian. “She’s devastated. She looks at her arm and she cries.”
Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier denied the police’s role in the incident and said that the explosion was caused by the protestors themselves. “We don’t know where it came from,” he said. “The tactics the protesters have used have been increasing in their aggressiveness.”
Walinsky is one of 26 protestors who have been hospitalized since police have stepped up their efforts in recent days to remove the protestors. A GoFundMe to cover Wilansky’s medical costs has raised more than $200,000 at the time of this writing. Protests of the pipeline have been going on for months as Native American groups and environmental activists want to protect sacred Native American sites and the drinking water of the surrounding area.