THE mum of a teenager who suffered severe head injuries while travelling in the boot of a car which smashed into a wall has spoken of her anguish for the first time.
Jackie Bennison's son Lee, 16, was in a Vauxhall Astra packed with six passengers when it careered into a brick wall and gate post on Whalley Road, Clayton-le-Moors, three weeks ago.
Lee, of Riverside View, Clayton-le-Moors, was put into a medically-induced coma to protect his brain but has now regained consciousness and can talk and understand what is going on around him.
But he will have to undergo months of rehabilitation.
Childminder Jackie said: "Lee doesn't remember anything about the accident. I'm reluctant to ask him why he was in the boot and he hasn't said anything.
"He's not ready for that conversation yet and when he does it will be with the police.
"I just want Lee to get better. I want him to realise just how fragile life can be.
"Nothing is worth what Lee is going through."
Jackie added: "I have always been protective of him but when they get to 16 they are earning their own money and mixing with different people.
"Teenagers think they are indestructible but they are not.
"A car is no different to any other weapon, it can cause just as much damage and injury and it should be treated with respect."
Jackie was waiting for Lee, an apprentice bricklayer and former St Christopher's High School pupil, to arrive home after a night out with friends when she heard about the accident.
She said: "I'd been waiting for him to come in so I could go to bed. I'd asked him to come in reasonably early and he said he would. It was 11.15pm and I was starting to worry.
"Somebody who I don't know turned up at the door to tell me there had been an accident and they believed Lee was going to hospital. The person told me he was critical and the bottom just fell out of my world.''
Since Lee was admitted to hospital, Jackie has been keeping a bedside vigil. She said: "While he was unconscious we talked to him, just about silly stuff. We read messages from people, said what we'd done that day."
She added: "I was in shock and quite numb for a while. I just held on until the time they said they would start waking him up.
"They didn't put it into words on the first night but afterwards they said he could have died.
"The doctors just didn't have a clue what he'd be like when they woke him up.
"He started moving his hands and legs first and that's encouraging because you know physically he's going to be okay.
"But even when they took him off the ventilator he didn't really wake up for a couple of hours."
Jackie said it would take a long time until Lee was back to his old self.
"He's improving every day but it's going to take time.
"He doesn't get into long conversations but he understands and replies. He smiles when you tell him something silly. He's a bit forgetful and his short-term memory is a bit come and go."
Since the accident Jackie has been unable to work and is having to cope with her two young daughters, toddler Olivia and Chloe, four.
She said people had shown huge support.
She added: "It's a horrible way to find out how good people can be.
"There's no rule book to say how you are going to manage. It just turns your life into chaos."