Injured Suffolk diver flown home

THE FAMILY of a diver who was left fighting for his life following a motorcycle accident in Thailand have spoken of their relief at getting him home.

Craig Robinson

THE FAMILY of a diver who was left fighting for his life following a motorcycle accident in Thailand have spoken of their relief at getting him home.

Shane Free, originally from Leiston, was flown back to England late on Tuesday night and is now recovering at Ipswich Hospital.

The 32-year-old was left in a coma for several weeks following the accident, which happened in Phuket on December 13.

Last night his family spoke of their relief at finally getting him home, although he is still not out of the woods yet.

His cousin, Abi Gagen, from Kelsale, said: “As far as I know he is doing well. There were no problems getting him home and my aunt stayed with him over night.

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“He arrived at the hospital late on Tuesday and the doctors have been carrying out tests. There was a concern that he might be sent to Addenbrookes Hospital in Cambridge because he has suffered a head injury, but we don't know yet.

“He is not in the coma but he can't speak at the moment. He needs a nurse 24/7 and still has a chest infection. However when friends have visited he has been able to respond, so he does have some idea of what is going on.

“It's a massive relief to get him home. To know that he is back in the country and that we can offer support to my aunt is a huge comfort to us all.”

It was costing his family �200-a-day to keep Mr Free in intensive care and it is believed the cost of flying him home was around �24,000.

His mother Monica Vearer, also from Leiston, flew out immediately and took up a vigil by his bedside.

She was accompanied by his father, although the couple were never married and are no longer together.

Mr Free left Suffolk in 2005 when he went to Ibiza to work as a diving instructor before moving to Phuket and setting up his own business - www.the phucketdiver.com.

After the accident, his friends Mat Ireland and Sarah Ridgeon started a group on social networking website Facebook and more than 850 people have signed up offering messages of support.

A bank account has also been set up so that people can donate money if they want to help with paying for the cost of his care and rehabilitation.

Miss Gagen said the fundraising effort had been going well and that they were closing in on the �1,000 mark.

She said she would like to thank everyone for their continued support - especially those businesses in the local area who have taken on collection boxes.

These include the White Hart Inn in Aldeburgh and the Cinamon Indian restaurant, Reactor Tattoo and The Royal Standard and The Crown pubs all in Leiston.

Anyone who would like to support Mr Free's cause can send a cheque payable to “The Help Shane Free Group” to Barclays Bank, 19 Main Street, Leiston IP16 4ER. Otherwise money can be paid in at any branch quoting the account name, “The Help Shane Free Group”, sort code 20-98-07 and account number 33784754.

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