Mechanic’s life shattered by exploding airbag
Diesel mechanic Mark Green was doing the job he loved when an airbag exploded while he was working under a hoisted bus, sending a large steel plate into his face, shattering his life.
The father-of-two, then 43, was thrown back and struck his head, suffering a severe traumatic brain injury, fractures to almost every bone in his face and a serious skull fracture.
Mr Green, who had worked for Brisbane City Council for 10 years, spent the next 17 months in a hospital and a brain injury unit, most of the time in a minimal conscious state.
The accident has had a huge impact, not only on Mr Green, 45, who will never work again, but also on his partner of 13 years Tracey Cooling, 49, and his sons, aged seven and 13.
"My life stopped that day, and it's still stopped,'' said Ms Cooling, who had to quit her job to look after Mark, who had also had a stroke in hospital.
"When he was in a coma and in a minimal conscious state I was told Mark was not going to wake up unless he heard something familiar," Ms Cooling said.
"Every day I would go to the hospital, from morning until evening, talking to him, playing different songs, making photos and movies of the kids, trying to recreate memories."
Ms Cooling said when Mark first came home in August, last year, he could not talk and he had no movement.
She said it was tough for their son Jenson, now seven, because for months Mark did not know who he was.
After much therapy, Mr Green, who has 24/7 carers, now has some movement through his body, but he cannot walk or eat, he is fed through a tube and has to use a wheelchair.
He has had multiple surgeries and often has to have plaster casts on both arms for a few weeks, to try to straighten his fingers and arms.
"Now he's able to talk more, Jenson is a happier kid, but he's still got it in his mind that one day he'll wake up and his Dad will be back to being the Dad he knew before,'' Ms Cooling said.
She said Mr Green had worked as a diesel mechanic since he left school, he loved his job and was always interested in workplace safety.
Before the accident, he played indoor soccer a few times a week, he would go for walks with his partner and attended children's sport and other activities.
"He was really cheery, a bit cheeky, he loved to joke,'' Ms Cooling said.
"This accident has destroyed the life of a loving father, husband and friend. It has destroyed his family,'' lawyer Greg Spinda of Maurice Blackburn said.
He said Mr Green was doing a rare and complex mechanical repair job that involved removing the rear axle of the hoisted bus, when the shock absorber airbag exploded.
Mr Spinda said it was vital that employers undertook risk assessments and implemented safe work practices, especially when a job involved a series of complex steps.
He said Mr Green had an ongoing workers' compensation claim, but once that was finalised the law firm would commence a personal injury claim.
"I've learnt to live very frugally on the small amount of workers compensation he gets,'' Ms Cooling said.
Originally published as Mechanic's life shattered by exploding airbag