Holiday hell for builder's son
TRENT Gardner has no idea how he came to be lying in a heap beside the wreckage of his scooter on a busy Thai road.
He has no memory of the accident or the days he spent fighting for his life in a Phuket hospital as his worried family maintained a bedside vigil.
What he does know for certain is that he's lucky to be alive.
Back home in Minyama after life-saving surgery, the 22-year-old former Matthew Flinders student said the weeks since his accident were a blur at best.
Holidaying with a group which included his father, GJ Gardner Homes founder Greg Gardner, Trent was making his way around Phuket as he had done many times before, when the accident happened.
“I don't remember a thing,” he said.
“It was my 22nd birthday on the 29th (of December) and I can remember that, but the accident was on the 30th and I can't remember anything from that or the week after.
“We were staying at Kata Beach and I've been told we were heading into Patong Beach when I left the others in the group to go back.
“Then I don't know what happened.
“Basically, my family said they arrived and I was being put into an ambulance.
“There was supposed to have been another vehicle involved but no witnesses ever came forward.
“It was a busy road, so someone must have seen something, but no one could tell my family what happened.
“It's still a mystery.”
Typical of many young tourists in Thailand, Trent wasn't wearing a helmet. He suffered a fractured skull, broken cheek, broken eye socket and various cuts and bruises.
He also needed delicate brain surgery during more than two weeks in a Phuket hospital.
He then spent another week on the tourist island in case of complications before he was allowed home.
A neurosurgeon and neurologist have told him he should not suffer any long-term problems from his brain injury and with his external injuries healing, he hopes to be back at work training franchisees for his father's housing company in a week or so.
Already a regular visitor to Phuket, Trent said he would not hesitate to hire a scooter next time he visits but would think twice about not wearing a helmet. His biggest regret is the impact his accident had on his family. “It took a toll on my friends and family – they are the ones who got upset,” he said.
“Dad was over there the whole time and mum flew over when she found out about the accident.
“She was a bit upset when she got the phone call but once she was there she was treating me like a king and slept beside my hospital bed.
“I look back and think how lucky I am to have survived the accident and survived the surgery, which a lot of people don't.''
Trent said he was focusing on getting better and “enjoying every day”.
“I'm getting stronger and more repaired every day and can use both my eyes comfortably.
“I'm not happy about having a shaved head, but I'm feeling good.
“There's some short term memory loss but at least I'm alive.”