Tragic coma picture: Dad's full heartbreaking interview
A FAMILY has been left uncertain about how severe their son’s brain damage may be after a tragic accident last month.
Sixteen-year-old Ryan Smith from Chapel St Leonards was involved in a crash with a van whilst cycling to work near the seaside village.
After being told his son might not survive the night, Mark Smith has spent every day of the last five weeks at his son’s bedside.
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Ryan remains in a coma and his family is anxiously waiting to discover how serious his brain damage may be.
Mark, who is a paramedic, said: “When I heard the news I thought ‘typical Ryan, he’s strong as an ox, it’ll be a few scratches and bruises’, but when I called the paramedic on scene I found out it was much more serious.
“I always wear a helmet, I always told Ryan to wear a helmet but he is 16, his hair is his life and sadly he has the ‘not going to happen to me attitude’, but in a click of your fingers our family’s life has changed permanently.
“We don’t know yet how much of our son we are going to get back, we will never know if a helmet would have saved him, but I don’t want another parent to take that chance.”
Ryan is an avid sportsman which landed him the role as Paralympics Ambassador for Skegness Grammar School, where he met gold nedal runner Richard Whitehead, from Nottingham.
Sportsman Ryan met Paralympic runner Richard Whitehead
With dreams of being an engineer, he will receive his GCSE results tomorrow, which his family still hope could be the start of his path to university.
Ryan’s family remain cautiously optimistic with his mum Julie and 21-year-old sister Rachael at his side.
Mark said: “We spent a week with nothing, then a twitch from his left arm and now he blinks to my voice.
“He’s a stubborn Smith, a fit young lad and he’s fighting, so we owe it to him to believe. I still kiss him like I always have.”
Ryan is currently in the respiratory ward at Pilgrim Hospital on the waiting list to be moved to the specialist neurology Abbey Ward at Lincoln County Hospital.
Support has been overwhelming with more than 15 friends and family in his hospital room at times.
Support for Ryan has been overwhelming
Now Mark wants to use this support to create something positive, sharing his story to make it compulsory for cyclists to wear helmets.
Mark said: “I can make my four-year-old wear a helmet but it is harder to tell an image conscious teenager what to do.
“This needs to go to Parliament straight away but people have no excuse not to go and buy a helmet, there is one in everyone’s price range and you should wear it even if you’re just riding to the shop.”
Ryan’s close friend Hollie Simpson, like many 16-year-olds, uses a bike to get around and she now always wears a helmet.
“Ryan is so much fun. We all joked about his quiff, he was always pushing his hair up and we think that’s the first thing he’ll do when he wakes up.
“I make sure I wear my helmet now but see so many people who don’t and I think Ryan would want to change that.”
Ryan's dad dubbed him and his friends 'Wrong Direction'
Mark has set up an event in Chapel St Leonards on September 8 to raise awareness which will include a bike ride to Pilgrim Hospital which everyone is encouraged to join.
The Ryan Smith Foundation page has been set up on Facebook with details, already attracting thousands of supporters. https://www.facebook.com/ryansmithfoundation
Mark Smith also wants to raise awareness of an online petition to make it compulsory to wear a helmet when cycling to school http://epetitions.direct.gov.uk/petitions/40100