Windsor

Expected to die, Windsor man wakes from coma and returns home

Don Brunelle was a passenger in a corvette that struck a cement hydro pole at close to 200 km/hr on May 26 in Wheatley. The driver was charged with drunk, stunt and reckless driving, while Brunelle fought for his life in hospital.

No one expected Don Brunelle to make it to his 64th birthday, but his wife always held out hope

Brenda Brunelle planned a massive homecoming for her husband Don, who was in a coma for nearly three months after a car crash in May. (Melissa Nakhavoly/CBC)

A 64-year-old Windsor man who fought for his life in hospital for three months following a harrowing car crash arrived home Friday to a hero's welcome, his body battered but his spirit unbroken.

Don Brunelle was a passenger in a corvette that struck a cement hydro pole at close to 200 km/hr on May 26 in Wheatley. The driver was charged with drunk, stunt and reckless driving. Brunelle was in a medically induced coma for weeks. Doctors did not expect him to survive.

Don Brunelle wasn't expected to live after a car crash in May left him in a coma for nearly three months. But the 64-year-old Windsor man returned home Friday to a large crowd of friends, neighbours and family. (Melissa Nathavoly/CBC)

His wife Brenda maintained a vigil at his bedside and remained unrelentingly positive.

"I refused to believe what all the doctors — and I mean all of them — were telling me about how sick he was," Brenda said. "I asked all of that conversation about him not surviving this crash be taken outside of his room."

Brenda chronicled Don's slow, painful and remarkable recovery on Facebook and scores of neighbours and friends were on hand to welcome him home Friday with hugs, balloons and a band. He arrived home to a house outfitted for his wheelchair and a difficult road ahead. 

"I'm just very grateful that I'm on the road to getting my life back with all my friends," he said. 

When Don first woke up, he couldn't even recognize his wife. He battled blood infections and two bouts of pneumonia.

For now, Don will need help getting in and out of his wheelchair. He'll require someone to help him do even the simplest of tasks, like bathing and going to bed. 

"I think our battle now begins," Brenda said. "I think this is day one of his recovery. I think we're out of the hospital phase now."​