SURVIVOR: Shawn Butler, left, has returned home to spend time with his mates Dane De Wit, middle, and Geoff Yates, right.
SURVIVOR: Shawn Butler, left, has returned home to spend time with his mates Dane De Wit, middle, and Geoff Yates, right.

WELCOME HOME MATE

By NERIDA BLOK

CATTLEMAN Shawn Butler has returned home for an emotional Christmas reunion with family and mates after a near tragic horse accident. The 28-year-old beef producer suffered serious spinal injuries after falling head-first from his horse when mustering stock in July.

On Tuesday, he arrived home on crutches for the first time since the accident, accompanied by wife Sonia.

Yesterday he went to thank his mates, Geoffrey Yates and Dane De Wit, who made sure his two properties at Mallanganee and Mummulgum kept going.

Geoffrey was also one of four people to organise one of two fundraising nights, collecting up to $15,000.

"He'd do the same for us," Dane and Geoffrey agreed.

"More than 200 people came to his fundraiser, which wasn't surprising, knowing what sort of person he is ? he's a genuine all round good fellow."

Shawn was thankful to his mates for helping keep the properties going while he was away receiving treatment in Sydney.

Relieved and happy to be home, Shawn said it was 'terrific to be back' and walking after initial fears he could be paralysed.

Recalling his accident, Shawn said a nephew of the friend he was mustering for had fallen from his horse, so he went over to see how he was.

"As I was dismounting, the guy moved and I think it may have spooked my horse," he said.

"It was a simple accident, but I knew as soon as I fell and landed on my head there was something wrong."

Diagnosed with an incomplete C4 quadriplegia, Shawn was first flown to Lismore Base Hospital by the Westpac Rescue Helicopter Service, and then to Sydney's Prince of Wales Hospital the following morning.

"Basically I didn't have any movement from my breast down," he said.

Months of intensive physiotherapy later, Shawn has gained function back in his legs.

"I'm still considered C4, and I can't walk without the assistance of my Canadian crutches," he said.

Shawn said he was extremely grateful to everyone who had helped him since the accident, especially his wife Sonia.

After Christmas with family in Mallanganee, Shawn will return to Sydney early next month to undergo a final three weeks of treatment.



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