Suffolk man in Thailand crash horror

DEVASTATED family of a Suffolk man last night spoke of their hopes of getting him flown home after a motorcycle crash in Thailand left him in a coma.

Craig Robinson

DEVASTATED family of a Suffolk man last night spoke of their hopes of getting him flown home after a motorcycle crash in Thailand left him fighting for his life.

Diving instructor Shane Free, formerly of Leiston, has been in a coma for more than a week following the accident in Phuket.

His mother Monica Vearer immediately flew out to Thailand to be by her 35-year-old son's side and the rest of the family remain on tenterhooks waiting to hear of updates of his condition.

Last night his family said he had been taken off the ventilator and could breathe on his own but he remained in the coma.

Mystery surrounds the cause of the accident but it is believed that the former Leiston High School pupil fell off the motorbike on Sunday, December 13.

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Mr Free - whose family live in Leiston - left Suffolk in 2005 when he went to Ibiza to work as a diving instructor.

He then moved to Phuket where he has been ever since and set up his own business, www.the phucketdiver.com.

Last night his cousin Abi Gagen said it is costing the family �200 a day to keep him in intensive care and will cost a further �30,000 to fly him home.

She also praised his friends from Suffolk and abroad who have rallied around in his time of need - posting messages of support on a special page on social networking website Facebook.

It is hoped that together they will be able to raise enough money to bring Mr Free home or at least pay for his continued care in Thailand.

Miss Gagen, of Kelsale, said: “It has been an absolute nightmare. My aunt got the next available flight out to Thailand and she is there now. We have been waiting to hear from her for any updates.

“We had some good news because he is now breathing on his own. He is still in the coma but it means my anunt can now see him all day instead of just for a couple of hours.

“We think the accident happened last Sunday - but we weren't told until Tuesday. We're not sure how is happened. As Shane is in a coma we don't even know that he will remember. It could have been any number of things.

“We would like to fly him back home so he can be cared for here. Now that we've seen signs of improvement it could be sooner than we hoped. In the short term we will pay for his care in Thailand.”

So far 346 friends have signed up to the “Help Shane Free” group on Facebook - offering messages of support that have been a great source of comfort to the family.

One friend has also created a video of Mr Free which has been posted on the website YouTube.

Miss Gagen said: “He has got a lot of friends here and a lot of friends over there and we would like to say thank you to all of them for showing their support. It is a tremendous comfort to know people are thinking of him.

“It has been absolutely brilliant, everyday there are new comments. It was their idea to ask for financial contributions. They said they felt helpless and wanted to do something so decided to raise money.

“The final details are being sorted out - we'd like to set up a charity of bank account but were not sure how to go about it. We're also talking about fundraising and things like that.”

Anyone who is able to help the family out with fundraising or advice is asked to call Miss Gagen on 07949 560487.

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Gary Pomeroy : Get well soon Shane, you can beat this. You are a loyal friend to everyone in this area and the least we can do is raise some cash for your care. Anyone who knows you will chip in, just get better.

Donna Smeed : Really sad to hear you are so poorly. My Thoughts are with you Shane & your family. You can get through this - look at the support you have. :-D.

Lizzie Miller : Ken & me r thinking of u mate - hope things look up soon & u get back 2 ur normal, crazy life...xxxx

Duncan Perry : Shane, all of us who dive with your mum are praying for you and thinking of you, be strong big man.

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