He still has a long way to go, but Jamie Gibbons says his brother, Danny, is slowly coming back to them.
The 21 year-old Petrolia man was one of four people in a pickup truck which rolled several times just outside of Oil Springs over a month ago. Gibbons suffered severe head injuries and was in a coma until two weeks ago.
His brother, Jamie, says he began opening his eyes and flinching as if to tell the family he knew they were talking to him about two weeks ago. Now Gibbons is talking.
“Sometimes he is totally off topic,” says Jamie “but that he’s comprehending and recognizing our family…and a few of his best friends…that’s a good thing. It is that much more assuring that things are going the right way.”
And while his brother is alert and talking, Jamie says the head injury has had some unusual effects. For a while, Danny spoke with a thick western accent which baffled the family. And the normally kind and good-natured guy became angry at one point.
“Danny always so respectful and kind hearted to everyone and good natured all around…to be angry – that wasn’t Danny at all…but he was quite angered at one portion of it…when he started coming awake, but he is starting to come back to that nice guy in personality that Danny is,” says Jamie.
The family, Jamie says, is relieved just to hear his voice after several weeks of wondering what the future held. “For a while it was just machines running his body…and we were there not knowing if he was going to come out of that at that time…whether he was going to be able to talk or move,” he says.
Jamie says physically it appears Danny will be fine in the future “I looks like he’s going to be okay for functioning on his own.” But it isn’t clear how long it will take or how completely the brain injury will heal.
“Two weeks from now with that much more healing time, he could be that much better…or he could be this way for a year for all we know,” says Jamie. “It’s so clear to us – the immediate family – to see how far away from total success he is.”
But he says the family of 10 is encouraged by Danny’s progress so far and by the concern of the community. There have been various fundraising efforts for the 21-year-old and his family including selling car decals which said Pray’n for Danny.
“My parents and the family have been getting weekly calls from friends ‘is Danny still going in the right direction’ …and almost every single person says the same thing, ‘we’ve been praying for Danny every single day.’
“We weren’t big into going to church (my brothers and I) and having this happen, this severe and so close to losing him, it definitely is an eye opener and I definitely believe the prayers are making a huge difference.”
Jamie says the family is also overwhelmed by the generosity of the community. A trust fund had been set up and people from across the province contributed. A fundraising dance is planned for Danny in Wyoming Saturday night.
“It’s just amazing and overwhelming the responses and replies… and not just Petrolia, we have family in Hepworth and a lot are coming down for Danny’s benefit on the weekend…it is just phenomenal, we can’t even really grasp the fact this is happening and there is this much support for Danny.
“We knew he was very, very well liked but this is amazing.”
And Jamie says the fundraiser this weekend will be needed. The family isn’t sure how long he’ll be in the hospital yet – it could be months.
And Danny will have to spend some time at home recovering, Jamie says. “He’s not going to be able to jump back up get in his truck and go to work right away…it is definitely something that is needed so we’re very, very grateful.”
BENEFIT FOR DANNY
The event runs from Saturday from 7 pm to 1 am with raffles throughout the evening. Tickets for the event are available at Crabby Joe’s in Petrolia, Clayton Automotive, Confederation Lube and Oil and Bayview Chrysler in Sarnia. Pray’n for Danny stickers are also available at West End Pumpsas part of the fundraising effort for Gibbons.