Assault victim Ben Eltham doesn’t sound a bitter man.
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Many Cowra residents know Ben, they may not realise it but they do know him, or at the very least have seen him, possibly once each week.
Ben was one of the trolley men at a local supermarket so if you shopped in Cowra you probably did see him but you wouldn’t recognise him from the photograph on the front of today’s Cowra Guardian.
Ben doesn’t sound bitter, instead he’s using his harrowing experience to send a message.
Ben was the victim of an assault earlier this year, waking up in Intensive Care at Orange Base Hospital after a night out.
During the assault 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.
Ben told the Guardian 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 told journalist Kelsey Sutor.
“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.”
Ben obviously doesn’t know what happened on the night so isn’t attempting to point the finger in any direction.
What he is doing is waving a hand in warning to all Cowra residents.
Go out and have a good time, he is saying, but don’t drink to excess and organise a safe passage home.
If you don’t you may pay a heavy price, one much higher than you could ever imagine.
We should all be able to enjoy a drink and a night out.
We should also be able to make a safe journey home, even with a pit stop to get a bite to eat on the way – it’s a bit of a Cowra tradition.
But tradition demands we should be able to do so safely.
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