Perth man strives to pick up the pieces two years after near-fatal crash
A LOSS of concentration behind the wheel of his ute almost ended the life of Luke Stevens.
His body was so badly mangled that police arriving on the scene initially thought the then 20-year-old was dead.
“I still don’t know how I survived, even the cops thought I was gone,” Luke, now 22, said of the horrific May 2017 crash.
From the impact of his ute hitting a turning car in Oakford, Luke broke his pelvis in four places, his right arm and leg were crushed — breaking his radius, humerus, ulna and femur — and he fractured his skull and broke his nose.
It took a couple of hours for emergency services to cut him out of his ute and rush him to Royal Perth Hospital where surgeons operated the next day.
As if his broken body had not suffered enough, Luke almost died from surgery complications as bone marrow found its way into his blood stream and entered his brain and lungs. He subsequently had a stroke and fell into a coma.
“When he finally woke from the deep coma after six days, he was in what they call a shallow coma and it was as if the lights were on but no one was home,” Luke’s mother Gerry Stevens, 55, of Falcon, said.
“It was a frightening time for all of us. It was hard to see my son in that state but I was there for him every day.”
Mrs Stevens was more than familiar with bedside visuals, having done the same for her older son Benjamin after he crashed during a motorbike stunt just three years prior, resulting in his leg being amputated.
Luke’s shallow coma lasted another 12 days but then medical staff soon discovered Luke had cognitive damage, affecting his ability to talk properly.
“So not only would he have to learn how to walk, but he would also have to learn how to talk again,” Mrs Stevens said. “He was starting from scratch.”
After five weeks at RPH, Luke was transferred to the Fiona Stanley Hospital’s brain injury ward.
Every day he endured excruciating pain but Luke said he remained positive and refused to go to “that dark place”.
Helping him regain cognitive skills, speech and mobility since leaving hospital was a team of professionals from disability service provider Rocky Bay.
Even though the accident was deemed to be caused by Luke, his rehabilitation was covered by the WA Government’s no-fault catastrophic injury cover as part of WA’s Compulsory Third Party Insurance Scheme.
Luke’s Rocky Bay team included speech pathologist Toneille Grant, as well as an occupational therapist and physiotherapist.
“Luke has come such a long way in a relatively short period of time and now he’s looking at returning to work,” Ms Grant said. “But while he’s now finished working with me on his speech, he still has a lot of work to do to regain his physical strength.”
Ms Grant said Luke’s dogged determination was a huge factor in his recovery.
Before Luke was sent home from FSH, 41/2 months after his accident, doctors were sceptical that Luke would be able to achieve his goal of walking out of hospital. But just before being discharged, he managed to force himself out of his wheelchair and take 12 steps — enough to prove the medics wrong and tick off the milestone.
Since leaving hospital, Luke’s rehabilitation work with the help of Rocky Bay has come in “leaps and bounds”.
He has even managed to bounce back after knee surgery earlier this year.
Luke still battles with brain fatigue and can only hold his concentration for short spurts but he’s unwavering in his resolve to keep ticking off milestones in his journey to full recovery.
“We’re so lucky he survived and his progress has been amazing. He’s so inspiring,” Mrs Stevens said.