Hit-and-run victim set to return home

Oliver Bennett
Oliver Bennett

A 26-YEAR-OLD adventurer left with catastrophic brain injuries after a hit-and-run accident is hoping to return home after spending more than a year at Eastbourne’s Chaseley.

Oliver Bennett is totally dependent on others and will need 24- hour care for the rest of his life because he has been left unable to communicate after a Ford Transit hit him on the A27.

The accident happened near Lewes early on June 7, 2009, as Oliver walked to his home in Uckfield after a night out in Brighton for his birthday.

The van didn’t stop after the accident but a passing motorist saw Oliver lying in the lay-by and called the emergency services.

He was rushed to Brighton Hospital and then transferred to Hurstwood Park where he spent the next three weeks in intensive care.

He suffered a broken collar bone and a fractured chin but the most life-changing injuries were to his brain.

His dad Andy Bennett told the Herald, “We had grave concerns about him surviving.

“It was in the balance for several weeks. He cannot communicate.

“We have tried to get him to blink in order to answer questions.”

Before the accident, Oliver had recently returned from a seven-month trip to South America, Australia, New Zealand, Thailand and Malaysia. Andy said he was adventurous and had taken part in a range of thrill-seeking activities including sky-diving, mountain biking, go-karting and horse riding in Argentina.

Now Oliver is bound to his bed or wheelchair and Andy and his wife Gill, Oliver’s mother, spend every moment they can at Chaseley in South Cliff.

His devoted parents are desperate to carry out adaptations to their Uckfield home which will enable their son to return home.

Andy said, “My wife is up there every afternoon and evening and I am with him every weekend. But he is 26-years-old and he should not be living in a nursing home.”

Andy estimates extending the house and creating a wet room will cost around £30,000.

He said the family is hopeful there may be an insurance settlement or the opportunity to apply for grants but explained both options will take a great deal of time.

The family are desperate to have Oliver home as soon as possible so they are organising a fundraising walk on May 1 in Little Horsted.

Oliver has four sisters and a brother who has Downs Syndrome and Andy says it would be nice for the family to be together again.

The fundraising walk, called Bringing Oliver Home, is at 1.30pm at Worth Manor Oast House, Little Horsted, TN22 5TT.