Drink-driving nightmare

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Precaution .Wyndham man Isaac McCallum, who has a head injury from a car crash, has downloaded an app on his cellphone so if he wanders off in a semi-conscious state before a seizure his family members (from left) mum Teresa and partner Abbie Willoughby, holding son Harrison, will be able to call the police, who can track Mr McCallum's location PHOTO:SANDY EGGLESTON

The impact of one decision has Isaac McCallum and his family rebuilding his shattered life.

About five months ago, Mr McCallum, of Wyndham, sat in the passenger seat of his truck and allowed someone he thought of as a friend to drive him home.

Unfortunately, the friend had been drinking and crashed Mr McCallum’s truck.

Even though he was restrained by a seat belt, the air bags did not deploy and Mr McCallum hit his head on the windscreen, the dashboard, the back of the seat and the side of the truck.

Eight parts of his brain were injured.

Mr McCallum said he had little memory of the party he went to that night and could not recall why he trusted his friend to drive him the short distance home.

“I don’t remember and that’s what shocks me,” Mr McCallum said.

“I should have walked but I didn’t want to leave my truck and I didn’t want to drive.”

He often acted as the sober driver for his friends and would never consider drinking alcohol before driving.

“I wouldn’t even drive if I had a bottle of alcohol like a stubbie.

“It annoys me I was victim to it.”

Police estimated the truck was going about 130kmh when it left the road, hitting a gate, road sign and fence posts before coming to a stop in a paddock, about 11km from Mr McCallum’s house.

Two passengers in the back seat were also injured.

Emergency services were fast to the scene because a tanker driver reported the truck had been weaving across the road just avoiding a head on collision with the tanker.

Mr McCallum was airlifted to Dunedin Hospital and spent three days in a coma but was discharged five days after the crash.

Since then he has been readmitted to hospital many times after having seizures.

“I’ve had five helicopter trips, been in intensive care countless times and been in a coma four times.”

Before a seizure he was likely to wander off in a semi-conscious state.

“Usually my wanderings turn into seizures and I stop breathing with my seizures.”

He had downloaded an app on his cellphone that could be used to track him if he did wander off.

He had many hours of therapy which helped him learn to walk, eat and speak again.

“I can’t work now…I can’t drive.”

He has short-term memory loss.

It was estimated it would take two years before he could work again and he would never recover fully.

“Even if I am just 98% better or 95% better, anything over 90%, I’ll be happy with.”

Before the crash he had joined the Gore Red Cross disaster response team, but now he was the one that needed help.

“I find it very hard to deal with that emotionally.”

Mr McCallum, partner Abbie Willoughby and son Harrison (16 months) live with his parents, Teresa and Dave.

Mrs McCallum said the experience had been a parent’s “worst nightmare”.

The family lived in the space where they did not know when he would have another seizure.

“I worry about him stopping breathing and dying during seizures or having one at night when everyone’s asleep.”

Twice her husband had given Mr McCallum CPR and saved his life.

Ms Willoughby said when Harrison saw his father looking unwell he knew what to do after watching his grandfather giving him CPR.

“It’s pretty scary to see a child this young actually going [to his father] and doing CPR,” Ms Willoughby said.

“It’s cute and sad at the same time because we never thought we would have to do CPR on Isaac.”

The family hoped by sharing their story people who drank and drove would change their behaviour.

“Something good has got to come out of this,” Mrs McCallum said.

“Those ads on TV are 100% right,” Mr McCallum said.

“Drink-driving is not OK.

“If people would just listen to those ads.”

Former Wyndham man Shaun Marsh (22), the driver of the vehicle which caused the crash, was charged with driving in a dangerous manner, being an unlicensed driver, failing to comply with prohibition and three charges of driving with excess breath alcohol causing injury. He was sentenced in the Gore District Court on March 17, disqualified from driving for three years, fined $300 plus $130 court costs, and ordered to pay $4000 reparation to Isaac McCallum and $500 each for the other two victims and was given home detention for 10 months and 21 days.