What was supposed to be a night out with friends quickly turned into a life-threatening situation for one Cowra resident, who is warning others to be careful when out drinking. The last thing Ben Eltham remembers from that fateful night in late May was leaving a pub after drinking with mates.
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“I was meant to go back to a friend’s place but I declined because I always go to the Mobil for a feed,” Mr Eltham said.
The next morning he woke up in ICU in Orange Hospital.
“I just remember waking up on life support in Orange Hospital, not knowing what had happened to me. I just remember laying there with tubes hanging out of my mouth, just everywhere.”
Mr Eltham was allegedly involved in an altercation at the service station, where he received multiple injuries to his head and shoulder before spending 10 days in hospital for treatment.
“A fractured skull in two or three places, fractured eye socket, broken nose, dislocated shoulder and I've got slight memory loss now and epilepsy, so I can’t drive until I go and see the neurologist in the next couple of months,” he said.
“I have to wait for the swelling in my brain to settle down still, I just have to wait for everything to settle down, see if it gets back to normal and do some scans.”
Mr Eltham says the events of that night have dramatically changed his life – he can’t drive, he has lost his job and depends upon friends to help him get by.
“It’s day by day, I’ve just got to take things slowly,” he said.
“It’s just lucky I’m here.
“It’s just the recovery period now I just have to get through and just don’t want to be harassed by anyone, I just want to be left alone.”
Mr Eltham says he hopes that, by telling his story, people will think twice when they are consuming alcohol.
“You see the risks on TV all the time, people going out and having a drink and getting into an altercation... something happens and someone dies or gets seriously injured,” he said.
“Just try and be safe, we all go out and get drunk and have fun, someone may take it the wrong way, you may go a little bit too far.
“I’m not saying anyone is to blame… I’m just saying to be aware of your surroundings and just get a taxi if you need to go somewhere or get someone to pick you up.”
Police have told Mr Eltham that inquiries are continuing into the matter. Mr Eltham thanked the staff at Orange Hospital and the paramedics in Cowra for their assistance.
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