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Holiday nightmare for Morpeth father

Keith Dungait in hospital in Spain, with his wife and mother by his bedside.
Keith Dungait in hospital in Spain, with his wife and mother by his bedside.

A devoted dad may never walk again after suffering major injuries in a freak holiday accident.

Keith Dungait, from Morpeth, was on a stag-do with friends in Spain when he dived into their private villa’s swimming pool and hit his head on the bottom.

Keith and his family on a previous holiday.

Keith and his family on a previous holiday.

The incident happened last Thursday – just a short time after arriving – and now the 41-year-old is in hospital in Majorca.

The father-of-two has suffered five fractures in his back and lost the use of his legs.

He has come out of an induced coma and is conscious and it was hoped that he was coming out of intensive care on Wednesday.

Keith is now waiting to have an operation to stabilise his neck, but it is not yet known whether he will be able to walk again.

His parents, Micky and Jeannie, are in Spain with him, while Keith’s wife of 11 years, Christina, is set to fly back out this weekend so she can be with her husband, who turns 42 on Saturday.

The couple, who have been together for 17 years, have two sons, Ronnie, seven, and Macaulay, five.

Keith’s friends have set up a JustGiving page to cover medical bills, potentially allow him to be flown back to the UK and begin his road to recovery.

In an overwhelming show of generosity, the Get Keith On His Feet campaign has already raised more than £47,000 in three days.

And it’s this support which is helping Christina, 39, and family cope with the ordeal.

She said: “The support has been amazing and overwhelming and I don’t think I would be coping as well as I am without the support. It really is keeping me going.

“The boys don’t know too much about it but I will be sitting down with them and telling them. But they are going to school, to keep things as normal as possible.”

Keith, who works in distribution and recruitment for Herbalife, lost consciousness when he struck his head on the bottom of the pool and friends had to drag him from the water and resuscitate him before he was rushed to hospital in Majorca’s capital, Palma.

Christina said: “They had arrived at about midday and then I had a phone call around 4pm, saying that Keith had had an accident.

“At first it didn’t seem as serious and the guy who rang me was quite upbeat, but then I got another phone call at about 9.30pm, which said that Keith was in a really bad way, he was in a coma and in intensive care, but the hospital wouldn’t really tell his friends anything because they weren’t family.

“He had taken in a lot of water and he had swelling in his head. It was a massive shock.”

Christina flew over to Spain to be by his bedside and said: “When I went to see him, it was horrible – he had a tube down his throat and one sticking out of his head.”

Thankfully, Keith has stabilised and is now able to talk. The operation is the next major step on his road to recovery, but his rehabilitation is set to be a lengthy process.

Speaking ahead of her return to Majorca, Christina said: “We are still waiting to hear when he will have the operation. Until he has had his operation, we don’t really know the timescale of getting him back over here.

“His operation will stabilise his neck, but in terms of his legs, that is up in the air at the moment and we are getting mixed messages.

“I don’t think we can make a long-term prediction about that, it is just a waiting game.

“He has started to talk a bit and he knows who he is and he remembers, recognises and knows us. Thankfully, there’s no brain damage and he’s still Keith.

“Things might be a bit different now, but I am clinging to the fact that it could have been a lot worse and I could have received a different kind of phone call.

“He could have died – he had to be brought back. His friends and then staff here at the hospital have saved him. The hospital has been amazing and the quality of care has been phenomenal.

“At first, Keith had no idea about what happened, but now he can remember the beginning of the holiday.

“But at the moment, it is too early for him to get his head around what has happened. He just wants to get the operation done and we’ll go from there.”

Keith is a regular gym-goer and previously played rugby for Morpeth and Tynedale, before having to quit the game through injury.

But it is hoped that this level of fitness will help with his recovery, as indeed will the money raised on the JustGiving site.

Set up by his friends, the fund-raising page states: ‘This is an urgent appeal to raise funds for our friend Keith Dungait.

‘Keith’s family know there is a long road ahead, and we hope that the funds we raise through this appeal will help make that rehabilitation possible and get Keith back on his feet.

‘Your kind donations will truly make a difference and help this young family get through this terrible time.’

To donate, visit www.justgiving.com/crowdfunding/getkeithonhisfeet