Family's mercy dash to Portugal

A MOTHER today spoke of the torture she has been through after her son was left stranded in a Portuguese hospital with serious injuries following a horrific road accident.

A MOTHER today spoke of the torture she has been through after her son was left stranded in a Portuguese hospital with serious injuries following a horrific road accident.

Maz Pickett rushed to Faro to be at son Jake Bennett's hospital bedside where she held a vigil until he was airlifted back to Suffolk over the weekend.

Speaking from Ipswich Hospital, Mrs Pickett who is the landlady of the Cooper's Dip pub in Saxmundham, said: "The last few days have felt like ten years. It has been the worst experience of my life and it's something no mother should ever have to go through.

"The first I heard was on the morning after when the police came around and told me about the accident, that it had been very bad and that I needed to get out there as quickly as possible.

"I was just beside myself and from what the police were telling me, I really thought Jake was going to die."

The 25-year-old had only been in Portugal for five days when the accident happened.

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Scared Jake would not pull through, Mrs Pickett, flanked by her daughter Lil and Jake's dad Ray, flew out two days later on July 19.

Mrs Pickett said: "The time between finding out and getting over there was just horrendous.

"The accident and emergency department was piled high with people – they were laying in corridors, on the floors - everywhere really. Jake was in a bed right in the corner and when I saw him it was frightening.

"His head looked as if it had been used as a football. The bruises were horrific. I must confess at that point I didn't think he would make it - I didn't see how he could.

"He had no idea how bad the accident had been and how bad his injuries were. That's something which is still unclear - no one really knows what happened and the police were not very interested. What I do know is that he went right under the car, but he doesn't remember anything about it.

"It was the kind of situation where you just want to give up and run home but I had to be strong and be there for him. He's my only son and we are a very close family.

"My only options were to leave him there or bring him home. When I went out there I told everybody I would not come back without him. I would have stayed out there for months if I had to."

Jake was eventually moved from the accident and emergency department to a surgical ward where Mrs Pickett constantly stayed at Jake's bedside.

She said: "Visiting hours there were very long - between 1pm and 8pm - so I just stayed at his bedside with him. It was very exhausting. I was either at the hospital or going to and from the hospital.

"The facilities were very poor and I didn't feel he was getting the best. It wasn't what he could get in the UK and there was also the language barrier too."

AFTER suffering serious injuries in a horrific road accident and being left stranded in a Portuguese hospital, former Suffolk College student Jake Bennett is today back on home soil.

The 25-year-old was left with a leg broken in two places, broken shoulders and bleeding on the brain after a car hit him as he returned to a friend's house in the Algarve on July 16.

With no medical insurance, the former computer design student was left fighting for his life thousands of miles from home without the love and support of his family.

But today, Jake is back in Suffolk, continuing on the long road to recovery at Ipswich Hospital after he was airlifted back to the UK at a cost of £10,000.

He had travelled over the stay with friends in the village of Messines to look for work as a landscape gardener, but as he returned to the villa along a dangerous stretch of road at night, Jake was struck by the car.

He was taken by ambulance to Faro hospital where doctors battled to save his life.

When the doctors said it would be possible to fly Jake home, regulars in Mrs Pickett's pub - the Cooper's Dip in Saxmundham - started a fundraising effort, while the family took out a £10,000 loan to cover the cost.

He was eventually airlifted to RAF Wattisham on July 29, where an ambulance was waiting him to take him to Ipswich Hospital.

Mrs Pickett said: "Throughout the flight Jake was very sedated. He was on a drip the entire time and he has been on a drip constantly since the accident to help with easing the pain and re-hydration. He's also had to have a catheter, but at least he's alive."

While Jake is through the worst of his injuries, he is not out of the woods yet. He faces operations to fix both his shattered shoulders, leg and hands, while he will also require a course of physiotherapy.

But it is not just the physical aspect he will have to deal with.

Mrs Pickett said: "Mentally, I think he's blocked out everything. He doesn't remember the accident at all. It's a safety device – he's blocked it out because he can't cope.

"It's also too early to say if he will fully recover physically. He could have problems with his left leg in particular, but it's just a waiting game now."

Mrs Pickett paid tribute to the friends and family who have supported Jake over the last fortnight.

"Their kindness is still sinking in," she said. "I'm lost for words. The support I have had has been incredible.

"It's an enormous relief to have him back home."

Timeline:

July 11 - Jake flies out to Portugal to look for work as landscape gardener.

July 16 - While walking home at around midnight, Jake is run over by a car, breaking both shoulders, breaking his left leg in two places and leaving him with bleeding on the brain. He is given only a 50 per cent chance of surviving.

July 17 - Jake's mum Maz Pickett is told by police her son has been involved in a serious road accident and is critically ill in a Portuguese hospital.

July 18 - Maz travels to Peterborough to get a passport after realising hers was out of date.

July 19 - Maz, her daughter Lil and Jake's dad Ray fly out to Portugal.

July 21 - Jake is moved from A and E to a surgical ward.

July 25 - Doctors agree Jake can fly home. A fundraising exercise starts at Maz's pub in Saxmundham to get the £10,000 require to bring Jake back to Suffolk.

July 29 - Jake is airlifted from Faro to RAF Wattisham, before being taken by ambulance to Ipswich Hospital.

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