An Australian chef was left paralysed while on holiday with his fiancée in Cape Town after a freak accident took place while they were visiting the small town of Kleinmond.

Gareth Flanagan (21) and his fiancè, Leisha Galluccio had travelled to South Africa on holiday, with the intention of spreading Flanagan’s late brothers ashes while visiting the country.

The couple decided to stop over at their family holiday home, located in the small coastal town of Kleinmond during their visit. On April 25, Flanagan dived into the river located at the back of the property and struck his head.

In an interview with 9news Australia, Galluccio says she knew something was wrong as her fiancè entered the river.

“Gareth decided to dive in only a metre to the right of where he had just been in the water and I knew the moment he hit water that something wasn’t right,” she said.

Adding that initially the injury did not appear as severe as they had thought.

“All I saw was blood gushing down from his head and we thought he’ll just need stitches.”

After calling for help, Flanagan’s father rushed to his aid dragging him out of the water. As soon as he was brought out of the river he told his father “I can’t feel my legs”.

As Flanagan also suffered from epilepsy, there were concerns that the injuries would result in further complications.

“Gareth thought he was going to die, he told his dad don’t leave me, I want to see Leisha one more time… tell mum I love her,” said Galluccio

Emergency services arrived at the residence, transporting Flanagan to Vergelegen Mediclinic. After an assessment, medical services informed the family that Flanagan had broken his neck and that there was a “slim to no chance” he would walk again.

Unfortunately during surgery, Flanagan suffered from several complications but has since improved as he has shown signs of minor movement.

The couple is currently still in South Africa as Flanagan undergoes recovery. A GoFundMe page has been created by friends of the couple to ‘bring Gareth home’ – a post on the page indicates that Flanagan is now also suffering from a lung infection.

“Gareth is currently paralysed from the waist down. He has broken his neck, and has blood bruising and swelling on his spine. He is on a ventilator due to a newly found lung infection and will require some rehab before even considering the trip back to Australia,” said the post.

The GoFundMe page aims to raise funds for the extensive rehabilitation Flanagan requires along with modifications to the couples home in Australia to provide for suitable living. The page has been aims to raise $15 000 and is close to their goal as it currently stands at $13 170.

Picture: Leisha Galluccio, Facebook, Gareth Flanagan with their cat Archie.


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