'He can speak a little'- scrambler victim Ilabek marks his 40th in rehabilitation hospital
Ilabek Avetian has marked his 40th birthday in hospital, saying his first words in 14 months after he suffered life-changing injuries when a scrambler bike ran over his head.
Mr Avetian, who had just moved to Dublin from Lithuania to work as a plasterer, was 38 when the scrambler incident happened in Darndale Park in north Dublin on June 9 last year.
He suffered catastrophic head injuries and doctors asked to turn his life support off, but his wife, Anzhela Kotsinian (44), would not let them.
Mr Avetian has managed to say a few words, but Ms Kotsinian said there is little hope of a major recovery.
"He can speak a little, he can read a little, write a little, but it's difficult for him to say a sentence," the former teacher said.
"He's trying to eat. Unfortunately, he has lots of health problems. Ilabek can't walk. The muscles of his legs and hands have been reduced."
The couple had been sunbathing in the park on the day tragedy struck.
Ms Kotsinian recently invited the staff of the National Rehabilitation Hospital (NRH) in Dun Laoghaire, where her husband has been a patient since April, to a small party in his ward to celebrate his 40th birthday.
However, as he blew out the candles on his cake, his wife knew the happy occasion was "mixed with great sadness".
"We celebrated Ilabek's birthday with staff and patients of NRH and I could tell Ilabek was very happy and surprised," she said.
"He saw the T-shirts I had made with a photo of me and him on, and when he saw the cake with our photo too, he smiled.
"I just wish I could turn every day into a holiday for my husband, as he has suffered so much.
"This is the 14th month we have lived in hospitals. This year was and continues to be a big battle for life for our family."
The couple, who were planning to have a family, had moved to Dublin only weeks before the scrambler bike incident.
Mr Avetian lost his left eye and suffered multiple facial fractures, including to his forehead.
His nasal bones were broken, as was his jaw, and he suffered a severe brain injury and haemorrhage.
The 16-year-old scrambler rider was not charged. He did not appear before a court, but was dealt with by the Juvenile Diversion Programme.