CHANGED LIVES: Marie Dudgeon with her son Glen at their home in Bangalow following a car accident 20 years ago that left Glen with a brain injury.
CHANGED LIVES: Marie Dudgeon with her son Glen at their home in Bangalow following a car accident 20 years ago that left Glen with a brain injury. Marc Stapelberg

After devastating crash he was given 1% chance of living

IT IS a Sunday afternoon just after Christmas, 1996, when a Bangalow family's life changes forever.

Glen Dudgeon, a strapping 23-year-old fencer, is driving with two mates on Bangalow Rd towards home.

As he rounds a bend near Springvale Hill, the young driver loses control of the Toyota ute he is driving.

The car flies off the road, flips forward, and crashes at high speed.

Glen fractures his skull on impact and is rushed to Lismore Base Hospital. Hours later he is flown to Brisbane for emergency surgery to alleviate the rapid swelling of his brain.

Six weeks in intensive care follow, with the young man on the precipice of life and death. Doctors give him a "1% chance" of living.

The experience is an agony for his Glen's parents, Marie and Trevor.

On one terrible night, they decide to accept his imminent death, and will him to go to God.

And yet miraculously, Glen survives.

It was a feat his mother now attributes, affectionately, to his stubbornness.

But Glen is no longer the same young man. The devastating result of the head trauma means he will need 24-7 care for life.

And for the last 20 years, the now 43-year-old's parents - supported by government funded carers and medical staff - have provided that care.

Glen needs mobility support to move around his home, and has cognitive and physical disabilities that include short term memory loss and speech impairments. He is also blind.

After the accident, Marie and Trevor Dudgeon learned to accept their life had changed permanently.

The first year was "harrowing", a whirlwind roller coaster, as they watched Glen survive, only to discover the changed reality of their son's condition.

"You get on with it, you're a parent," Marie said. "You wouldn't choose (it) but you accept it.

"There's better things than bitterness, there's achievements, goals.

"I think we're still meeting goals 20 years down the track... Glen is still making achievements.

"We have our ups and downs, but on the whole we're getting there."

The Dudgeon's story is featured in an upcoming video funded by Southern Cross LADS, the non-profit organisation dedicated to building a state-of-the-art driver education centre for the Northern Rivers.

The Northern Rivers has the highest road toll after Western Sydney, and has been the scene of countless accidents like Glen's that have irreparable consequences for those involved.

Marie Dudgeon urged people to back the campaign, by getting onboard the fundraising effort to build the centre.

She also encouraged people to always drive carefully.

"Hopefully somebody is going to listen to this and realise it doesn't have to happen," she said.

"Be careful on the road, be careful what you're doing, because you don't know the consequences.

"Ours are lifelong."

The Southern Cross LADS DVD launch will take place at an event open to the public, at the Ballina Jockey Club on Wednesday December 7, 6pm.



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