Injured death crash survivor fights to gain degree success

The Oxford Times: Grace Robinson, bottom right, and brother, Joe, bottom left, with mum Judi and dad Kevin Grace Robinson, bottom right, and brother, Joe, bottom left, with mum Judi and dad Kevin

JOE Robinson was left fighting for his life after a car crash on the A34 that killed one of his friends.

Given a mere three per cent chance of survival by medics, he was in a coma for a month.

Making a full recovery seemed nothing short of a miracle.

But now, five years on, he is preparing to graduate this month from Oxford Brookes University with a Masters in Real Estate.

Mr Robinson, now 23, said: “It’s like an ongoing battle. It’s like me versus the injuries so it does really take it out of me sometimes.

“It’s been something that has taken complete control and main importance in my life. I’m still walking on this path and I don’t know where the finish line is.”

In the crash, which killed 17-year-old friend Grace Hadman in April 2009, Mr Robinson broke his back in three places, neck in two places and had a skull fracture running halfway across his head.

Gabriella Edmondson, of Penn, Bucks, was sentenced to 28 months in jail and banned from driving for four years in October 2009 after pleading guilty to causing death by careless driving while drunk.

Then aged just 18, Mr Robinson needed round-the-clock care from the John Radcliffe Hospital’s neuro intensive care unit. The former pupil at Oxford’s St Edward’s School also caught pneumonia, meningitis and MRSA as his body battled the injuries. Mr Robinson, from Thame, said: “The accident made me realise how dangerous cars are and how we take them for granted. I really cherish every day. Life can change literally in seconds. It really hammers home to me how invaluable my family is to me.”

After leaving hospital on May 30, 2009, Mr Robinson was in a wheelchair for a month. He needed support from occupational therapists, physiotherapists, speech therapists, brain consultants and neck and back specialists.

Mr Robinson still suffers problems with his short-term memory, attention, concentration, facial recognition, problem solving and planning.

Yet in 2013, his hard work paid off and he graduated from Exeter University with a 2:1 in Geography. While studying, he twice received the Dean’s Commendation for Outstanding Performance in Exceptional Circumstances, becoming the first person to receive the award twice in 55 years.

Now, to mark five years since the crash, Joe’s sister Grace Robinson has vowed to raise money for the medical unit that saved her brother’s life. She has already raised £800 after completing March’s Salisbury Aquathlon, as well as the Blenheim Triathlon and the Thame 10km Road Race in June.

And on Monday she began a week-long climb of 5,895 metre-high Kilimanjaro, in Tanzania, the highest mountain in Africa.

Miss Robinson, 22, said: “It’s been really difficult, but you just keep taking it in your stride and see how it goes. It’s hard but we are a close family, it’s been difficult but we get through it.

“Joe has kept going so it shows what perseverance can do. It’s still like a continuous journey, but I’m very proud of what he has achieved.”

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