FRIENDS of an Irish student who is in a coma since last summer following a serious bike accident in the US are organising a fundraising drive to help pay for treatment in Germany.
Talented swimmer Padraig Schaler has been unconscious since he was accidentally knocked off his bicycle by a van as he cycled to work in Cape Cod on June 27 last year.
The 23-year-old had just finished his undergraduate studies in Trinity College.
He planned to spend the summer on a J1 working visa in the US while considering his plans for the future.
Mr Schaler's father Reinhard has told the Herald that his son's friends have been hugely supportive of the family since the accident.
Padraig was brought home to Dublin and spent spent four months in the Beaumont Hospital's intensive care unit before he was transferred to a dedicated early neuro-rehab facility in Hamburg, Germany.
"Over the Christmas he had a problem with his lung, so he had to have a number of operations," Mr Schaler said.
"He is still in a coma, but over the last month or two there have been signs that he is getting slightly better."
The family have had to cover significant expenses. The air ambulance flight to Germany alone cost almost €12,000.
Some of his friends have now helped organise a national swimming event – the Snamh Padraig – to help raise funds for his family.
Scheduled to begin on April 12, entrants will have to complete a five-minute swim at every county around the country with a coast, in two days – 17 counties in all.
Mr Schaler said his son's friends had regularly flown to Germany to visit him and had been "incredibly supportive".