THE FAMILY of rock throwing victim Patrick “Patty” Garrett was “lost for words” after hundreds of people from around the New England area supported their “road to recovery” event on Saturday.
The 29-year-old Guyra local is recovering after being struck by a rock while driving with his father, Steve, near Guyra on November 1, but ever since that incident the community has been rallying to help Patty and his family.
Saturday’s event included a mountain bike ride from Armidale to Guyra and attracted a bigger response than expected.
Retiring New England Local Area Command police crime manager and one of the event organisers, Greig Stier, had anticipated 30 or 40 riders would make the trek up the mountain.
But with riders coming from Armidale, Guyra, Walcha, Werris Creek and other parts of the region the number was closer to 70.
They left the Armidale CBD at about 7.30am and the first riders arrived at the Guyra Catholic church at about 10.30am.
Among them was Steve Garrett, who was a little exhausted after his ride, but said he couldn’t believe the support the community had given to Patty, he and his wife Cheryl and the rest of his family.
“I’m lost for words,” he said.
“When we were down there (in Newcastle) we didn’t expect anything to be happening.”
After Patty was released from John Hunter Hospital in Newcastle where he underwent surgery and was placed in an induced coma for two weeks, the family came home to Guyra to find the town was already raising money to help Patty.
That fund is expected to top $25,000 after Saturday’s event.
Also helping out were some friends of the family who walked from Armidale to Guyra.
Brothers Josh and Shawn Keene and their mother Gayle, along with Nathan Reeves, left Armidale at just after 5am and trekked about 40km, arriving at South Guyra, where they were joined by some other supporters for the last few kilometres to the church.
Once all the riders and walkers had arrived and were greeted by scores more Guyra locals for a barbecue there was a charity auction and raffle to help raise some more cash.
Patty’s sister Angie addressed the crowd and thanked the community for its help.
She said the family had been “overwhelmed” by that support in what had been “the most difficult time” in their lives.
She also praised police and ambulance officers for their work and of course her dad, who she said was a “hero” for his actions when the rock was thrown from another car that was being pursued by police.
Steve Garrett steered the car to safety from the passenger seat and called for assistance.
Angie Garrett also said the family believes the swift response from the police saved Patty’s life and thanked them for the ongoing efforts to help bring the culprits to justice.
Patty Garrett is recovering at home but will require more rehabilitation treatment in Tamworth early in the New Year.