‘Very scared’: The phone call every parent dreads
IT WAS 10pm on Sunday when Donna Gorman and Russell Kleidon received the phone call every parent dreads.
On the end of the line was an unfamiliar female voice, telling them that their 17-year-old son Nathan Kleidon had been involved in a serious car accident at Cobraball.
He was trapped in his Toyota LandCruiser ute, which had left Cobraball Rd about 9.40pm and crashed into a tree.
Nathan was driving back to his sister Megan's home at Yeppoon after watching the NRL grand final at his girlfriend's home at Bondoola.
Donna and Russell live at Gatton, and they could do nothing but wait for updates from Megan and her husband Dan, who had rushed to the scene.
It took emergency services two hours to free Nathan from the wreckage.
He was flown on the RACQ Capricorn Rescue chopper to Rockhampton Airport, from where the Royal Flying Doctor Service transported him to the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane.
Donna, Russell and another of their sons, Lachlan, drove to Brisbane, arriving at the PA almost the same time as Nathan.
Donna said doctors suspected Nathan had suffered spinal damage and told the family they would be running a raft of tests, including CT scans, x-rays and an MRI which would reveal the full extent of his injuries.
"When I first saw him, he looked pretty banged up," Donna said.
"He was lying with a neck brace on and wasn't able to move his arms and legs.
"I was very, very scared and it was a very, very long wait for those test results."
After an excruciating five-hour wait, the family was told Nathan had no spinal damage and his prognosis was good.
"It was a huge relief," Donna said.
"We were still concerned because of the loss of feeling in the lower limbs but they said that was from the swelling and that with time and physio, he should make a full recovery."
When Donna and Russell returned to the hospital on Tuesday morning, Nathan was sitting up in a chair and several hours later, was taking his first steps with the help of physiotherapists.
"The look on his face after he was actually walking was one of sheer relief. He was a very scared boy on Monday, thinking he might not be able to walk again.
"He's very, very lucky; there's somebody or something looking down on him and looking after him."
Donna said Nathan was conscious throughout the whole ordeal but could not remember anything about the accident or, in fact, anything else about Sunday other than getting out of bed that morning.
Nathan is in Year 11 at The Cathedral College. He made the move in part to pursue his promising rugby league career and to complete a school-based apprenticeship, which he is doing as a mechanic at Tropical Auto Group in Rockhampton.
Donna said Nathan was a wonderful character who loved life.
She and Russell are counting their blessings that his precious life wasn't taken or changed irreparably on Sunday night.
They want Nathan's accident to serve as a warning to other young drivers.
"You have to be so careful when you're behind the wheel of a vehicle because you never know what's going to happen," she said.
"I would ask them to be vigilant in the hope it stops another parent from getting one of those phone calls in the middle of the night."
Donna said she would be forever grateful for every individual who had played a part in Nathan's medical journey, from the emergency services at the crash scene, to the RACQ Capricorn Rescue and RFDS to the incredible medical staff at the PA.
She has been overwhelmed by messages of support from the TCC school community and members of the public.
But that kindness has been tempered by a loathsome theft.
Donna said Nathan's tools and swag, the canopy off his car and even the driver's seat were stolen from the scene of the accident on Monday night.
"It's hard to believe that someone would do that but the important thing is Nathan is alive and is going to make a full recovery," she said.