Yorkshire car crash victim who feared he would never walk again completes 85-mile challenge
Oliver Stevens, 23, is on course to clock up the last of his 180,000 step target on Saturday (Oct 21) in the month-long charity fundraiser. It comes just 15 months after he was left fighting for his life when the car he was a passenger in collided with a 40-tonne lorry near the Yorkshire Dales.
Medics spent over an hour at the scene treating Oliver, a rear seat passenger, who suffered collapsed lungs and wasn't breathing. They operated at the roadside to save his eyesight before he was airlifted to hospital where he spent a month in a coma while doctors save his life.
Oliver suffered several fractures to his skull, paralysis down his left side, broke his ribs and collar bone, and damaged his vision and hearing. Shocking photos released by his family for the first time since the crash show the extent of his injuries in his hospital bed.
His worried mother was told he may never walk or talk again, but after intense rehabilitation, he's now closing in on finishing the 30 day steps challenge.
Speaking of his injuries for the first time, Oliver said: "I'm still in full rehabilitation and this will continue for a long time. It's hard to motivate myself some days, but this challenge has helped give me the motivation I needed to be more active and help my recovery."
Oliver was travelling with three pals when the car they were in crashed into a 40-tonne articulated lorry in West Marton, near Skipton, North Yorkshire, last July. After medics treated him at the roadside, he was then airlifted to Leeds General Infirmary, home to the region's Major Trauma Centre.
He spent months at the trauma centre in Leeds and a further nine weeks at Rakehead Rehabilitation Centre at Burnley General Teaching Hospital.
On July 14 this year, the driver of the car pleaded guilty to causing serious injury by dangerous driving and was sentenced to a 12-month community order.
Now, 15 months on from the crash, Oliver is still recovering at home in Barnoldswick, Lancashire, with support from his mum Vicky Mara.
He still needs regular physiotherapy, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, and psychological support. The left side of his body, especially his face and arm, still suffers from paralysis.
But despite his injuries, he's took on the walking challenge to raise money for the charity Day One Trauma Support, which helped his family during his time in hospital.
Mother Vicky and stepfather John - along with his brothers and father Andy - were regular visitors to the hospital, a commute of around 80 miles at around £250 a week.
The charity provides a caseworker at the hospital to help people who have suffered catastrophic injuries. They offered Vicky with emotional and practical support, including counselling, legal advice, and a small grant to cover the immediate cost of travel and parking.
Oliver added: "Day One supported my family in our darkest days and continue to be there for us. They are a small charity and hopefully you will never need them, but they need us. They offer so many services such as counselling and legal information. I can't imagine not seeing my mum every day when I needed her the most. That's why I wanted to give something back."
As well as the support during his treatment, Oliver continues to be supported by specialist law firm Sintons, a legal panel member of Day One.
Vicky, 43, has had to cut down on her hours at the family-run estate agents where she works to help care for Oliver.
She said: "Oliver has always been a fun, loving outgoing person with a big personality, lots of friends and an active life in sports and fitness. Before the accident he wouldn't have thought twice about walking this distance, but it has been a massive challenge. He's done amazing and to see how far he has come in 15 months is mind blowing.
Speaking of the moment she found out he'd been in a crash, she said: "When we got the dreaded knock on the door from a policeman who asked if I was Oliver Stevens' mum, I just froze. He said Oliver had been involved in a serious road crash and the air ambulance was taking him to hospital. When you hear 'air ambulance' you know it's serious.
"The time in hospital was scary. We were limited to how much time we could spend with him when he was in ICU. I was walking round in a bubble. All I was thinking is I want my son to wake up. I just wanted him to be fine. When you're told your child has brain damage and might not walk or talk, you don't know what the future will look like.
"Day One Trauma Support were amazing. When I first met their caseworker I just broke down as the enormity of it all dawned on me. I can't imagine not having any funds to see your child on a daily basis. It's sad that a lot of people don't have the funds."
Kirsty Christmas, the charity's fundraising manager, said: "Oliver's story of recovery is truly inspiring. It's been fantastic to see him back out walking after such horrendous injuries and we're delighted that he's completed his challenge, while raising money for Day One."
So far, Oliver has raised more than £1,000 for the charity. Visit www.justgiving.com/page/vicky-mara-1695553794491 to donate.