WHEN Kaitlyn Hardy regained consciousness after four days in a coma following a crash on Bangalow Rd last week, she said the precious words - "I love you Dad".
While those words melted the heart of her father Jason who was at her bedside, he knew after suffering brain damage, a fractured spine and lung complications in the crash, the road to recovery had just begun.
The Byron Bay High School Year 12 student was being driven home from a chemistry lesson at Southern Cross University on September 16 by a classmate.
At about 4.20pm the car slid down an embankment and ploughed into trees near Dudgeons Ln, 1.5km west of Bangalow.
The women, both 18, were taken to Lismore Base Hospital, both suffering head injuries.
Mr Hardy said the distressed family found out about the crash two hours after it happened.
"It's your worst nightmare thinking about your child being involved in a major accident," he said.
When doctors saw Ms Hardy's condition she was placed in an induced coma before being flown to Sydney's Royal North Shore Hospital intensive care unit.
Yesterday Mr Hardy said Kaitlyn would be assessed for a rehabilitation program, which was likely to focus on her brain injury.
"Everything is looking promising but her short-term memory is really bad, her motor skills are bad and she is up and walking around with a bit of balance problems."
"She's in great spirits, but there's definitely damage there and it's going to take a lot of work to get back to her old self."
During the weeks of rehabilitation Mr Hardy said the family would stay in Sydney with Kaitlyn.
"She definitely won't be sitting the HSC exams."
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