Children gave paralysed Sunderland dad the will to live

Car crash victim Keith Johnston with daughters Emily (2) Fay (4) and Stephanie (13) at the Houghton Primary Care Centre, Brinkburn Crescent, Houghton, where Keith is receiving treatment.
Car crash victim Keith Johnston with daughters Emily (2) Fay (4) and Stephanie (13) at the Houghton Primary Care Centre, Brinkburn Crescent, Houghton, where Keith is receiving treatment.
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A DAD left paralysed in a road accident enjoyed an emotional reunion with his family after his brave six-month health battle.

Keith Johnston, 41, from Red House, today spoke of how his children gave him the will to live after his car skidded on ice as he returned home from a fishing trip in Cumbria.

After plunging into a ditch, the Renault Scenic ploughed through a wall and rolled over up to 20 times down a hill before eventually coming to a stop.

The dad of three, who was conscious throughout the ordeal, was left trapped with a severed spine while his passengers rushed to get help.

By chance, a GP was driving past seconds after the horror and provided vital help to keep the building worker alive.

Now, six months after the smash which left him on a life support machine for more than a month and paralysed from the chest down, Keith has been discharged from hospital and has enjoyed an emotional reunion with his family.

“It was so good to see them all again,” he said. “They mean so much to me. With their help, I know I can get through this.”

Although his four pals escaped the crash with cuts and bruises, Keith had to be cut from the wreckage and airlifted to hospital.

After being stabilised by medics in Cumbria, he underwent surgery at Newcastle Royal Victoria Infirmary and further treatment at a specialist unit at James Cook University Hospital, in Middlesbrough.

In recent weeks, he has been living at Houghton Primary Care Centre.

“We’ve all been through so much,” he said. “I’m still in a lot of pain and need to take a lot of medication, but I won’t let this beat me.”

However, Keith is now struggling to find a suitable home for him and his partner Christine Jopling, 31, and daughters Emily, two, Fay, four, and Stephanie, 13.

“I don’t seem to have been given any support whatsoever from the local authority,” he said.

“It just seems to be dragging on and on. I’m still waiting for a suitable place to live. I don’t know if it will ever be sorted out.”

Housing bosses at Sunderland City Council said they are working hard to re-house Keith and his family.

Coun Graeme Miller, portfolio holder for health, housing and adult services, said: “Mr Johnston has been offered properties that would meet his needs, however, to date none have been to his satisfaction.

“Officers from the council’s Access to Housing team will continue to work with Mr Johnston to explore other possibilities.

“In the interim, we have agreed to offer a short break in Valley View Residential Home in Houghton, which is contracted to meet the needs of younger people with disabilities.

“We have advised Mr Johnston around a financial assessment towards the costs of Valley View for the initial eight weeks and then a further assessment should his stay go beyond this time. He has agreed to this temporary solution.

“This will be an interim arrangement subject to appropriate housing being provided.”

Twitter: @SunderlandEcho