Family's bedside vigil for crash son

By Dave GooderhamA DEVASTATED family were keeping a vigil last night at the bedside of their crash victim son who was in a coma fighting for his life.

By Dave Gooderham

A DEVASTATED family were keeping a vigil last night at the bedside of their crash victim son who was in a coma fighting for his life.

Doctors have put Lewis Smith, 19, in an induced coma in an attempt to stem the severe pressure on his brain caused by a road crash.

They described the Haverhill teenager's condition as critical and were unable to give any firm assurances about his chances of survival.

His parents, Shayne and Alison, and older sister, Becky, are now praying that Mr Smith, who also broke both his legs in accident, would pull through.

Miss Smith, 22, said: “Lewis is still being classed as critical. He has been put in an induced coma for medical reasons, which apparently will help as he won't have to worry about breathing.

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“He has broken both his legs and his ribs and he has very severe pressure on his brain. We are now just praying and keeping our fingers crossed as all the doctors can say is that they hope the pressure in the brain will subside.

“They have said it might take a few weeks before we know more - but even then he may not be out of the woods.”

Mr Smith was with a group of about 12 friends when he was involved in a collision with a car while walking along the A143 in Barnardiston, near Haverhill, shortly before 2.30am on Sunday.

He was taken to Addenbrooke's Hospital, Cambridge, where he has been receiving treatment in the intensive care unit.

Miss Smith said her brother was a popular figure in Haverhill and thanked all his friends who had supported the family since the accident.

“Lewis is the sort of person who everyone knows and if you met him in a pub one night, he would be your best friend for life,” she added.

“He is a very popular and he would do anything for anyone. We have a strong bond and have been through a lot together. He is the sort of person I would want with me right now for support - but I now have to support him.

“There is a lot to take in and the last day has just been a nightmare with so many questions and our minds have been doing somersaults.”

The family are visiting Mr Smith in shifts as they struggle to come to terms with what has happened to him.

Miss Smith said: “The doctors have said he is in a critical condition and one minute he is better and the next it is not so good.

“We have been advised to get close family and friends to his bedside as soon as possible and my grandfather has now flown in from Spain.

“We, as a family, are thankful for all the support we have received from all our friends and especially the group of friends Lewis was with.”

The aftermath of the accident has led one borough councillor to step up his calls for urgent safety measures along the stretch of the A143.

Geoff Rushbrook, who has campaigned for improvements for almost two years, said: “I am not surprised about this tragedy - it was an accident waiting to happen.

“Every single village along the A143 has at least a 40mph speed limit except Barnardiston. I have constantly tried to get Suffolk County Council to reduce the speed limit, but they have absolutely refused.”

A county council spokesman said some safety measures would be put in place in the coming months.

He added: “We are looking into the request of the parish council regarding speed limits. Assessments are currently being carried out and safety engineering works will be carried out in this financial year.

“This will include work on the Greys Lane junction (with the A143 in the village), slow signs and markings on the roads.”

n A 30-year-old man from Haverhill was arrested on suspicion of failing to stop at the scene of a road accident in connection with Sunday's collision.

He was later released on police bail to report back at Bury St Edmunds Police Station on November 22.

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