AS Brad Knight’s father holds his son’s hand and looks into his eyes, it’s hard to believe a few short months earlier the 22-year-old was in the prime of his life and had just proposed to his girlfriend.
On his way to work on the morning of August 7, the diesel fitter fell asleep at the wheel of his car, veering off the side of the road and rolling his vehicle.
He hit his head hard and was thrown from the car, leaving him with extensive injuries and later fighting for life in a comatose state for many weeks.
He suffered broken ribs, internal punctures, spinal injuries and serious damage to his brain, and he’s now receiving ongoing treatment at Townsville Hospital.
Brad and his partner, Erin Walz, had only just moved to Cairns from Mackay to start the chapter of their lives when the tragedy occurred, the Daily Mercury reports.
“When we were told (about the accident) we were petrified not knowing whether he was alive or dead,” Ms Walz said.
“We didn’t know what was happening, we just knew he’d been in an accident and they’d had to induce him on the side of the road.
“Once he got to the hospital, the doctors didn’t have much hope for him from day dot, they didn’t think he would make it beyond the two-week mark but he has and he’s improved, so we’re hopeful.”
Brad’s cousin Shay Paton said Brad was now at a point where he was technically awake from his induced coma, breathing without assistance, but his brain wasn’t functioning.
“He’s in a vegetable state right now, and doctors are trying to get his brain to function so that he will be accepted for rehabilitation in Brisbane.
“We are all standing in his corner praying and willing to keep him fighting on, a big battle that will have a lot of pain and tears ahead.”
Since the accident, Brad’s family have been by his side every waking minute, hoping that soon he will recover and return to his former self.
Ms Walz said the news had been particularly hard on Brad’s father Trevor, who raised him as a single dad along with his three siblings - two younger brothers and an older sister.
“I think it’s terribly difficult to see your loved one like that and not knowing what the future holds.
Brad’s cousin said while signs of recovery are still grim, he has improved in small amounts, giving his family some hope for his future.
“The doctors aren’t overly confident yet but we see the little things he’s doing,” Ms Paton said.
“He got his tracheostomy removed so he is breathing by himself now, he’s started making noises and can move his toes.
“He can also move his hand when at first it was only fingers, so slowly he’s getting somewhere, he has a long way to go though, but we’re hoping he can do it.
“But right now things aren’t looking promising, it’s honestly heartbreaking.
“You hear of miracles happening every day so we are hopeful, we are praying he’ll get better but we really need his brain function to improve so they can say yes to rehab in Brisbane.”
Ms Paton described her cousin as one of the best people she knows: kind, hard working, loving and happy.
“He’s such a hard worker, he’s so young and just such a good kid and he’d only just got engaged to his beautiful fiancee,” she said.
“Of all the people in the world I just can’t believe this has happened to him. He’s such a good guy, he’s well behaved and was just beginning his life, he just doesn’t deserve this to happen to him, no-one does.
“But we’re all here to support him, his dad said he will quit his job to care for him full time if he needs to, everyone’s ready for whatever hurdles might come.”
In a bid to ease the financial strain of treatment and ongoing medical costs Brad’s family and friends have begun fundraising for him.
It is currently being done through Heath Paton Hair For Men on Macalister St, Mackay and a GoFundMe page, https://www.gofundme.com/brads-big-battle, set up by Ms Paton.
“Brad and Erin can use some help at the moment, so if like me you feel helpless please use this to show your support and love to them.”