After crash, hope lives for Aveyard
— Courtesy of Whitney Aveyard
Brandon Aveyard stands next to his sister, Samantha Gilman, at her wedding. Aveyard grew up in Knox and moved, to pursue acting, in California, where he has been in a coma since a motorcycle accident in July. An event to raise money for his transportation home to New York will be held at Curry Freeze in Rotterdam from noon to 4 p.m. on Oct 19.
LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Brandon Aveyard, the boisterous and theatrical one of three siblings, has been still since July. His slight movements are progressing, gradually, as he lifts his heavy eyelids or wiggles his toes, with his parents at his hospital bedside since the day after a van turned into the path of his motorcycle.
The 28-year-old moved to California from Knox to pursue a career in acting while working as a server at The Cheesecake Factory restaurant. His health insurance through work lapsed before the accident because his average number of work hours per week had dipped below a threshold for eligibility. Now, his family is awaiting support through Medi-Cal, California’s Medicaid program, before transporting Aveyard home to Upstate New York.
For any medical bills, Aveyard’s parents have told Sherman Oaks Hospital their Medi-Cal status is pending. Karen Aveyard estimates the cost of transporting her son by plane or ambulance could range from $14,000 to $20,000. She said they haven’t asked Medi-Cal to approve Aveyard for transfer out of state, gotten approval at a hospital in New York, or asked for the necessary medical evaluation to make sure he can travel.
“We were told, ‘Don’t bring that up with Medi-Cal yet. Because it’s pending, you don’t want to confuse what they’re doing,’” said Mrs. Aveyard.
On Oct. 19, friends and family will be raising money at the Curry Freeze ice-cream shop in Rotterdam for Aveyard’s trip to a New York hospital.
Aveyard has been in a coma, unconscious, but showing brain activity since July 13. He had finished his workday in Los Angeles and gotten on his motorcycle, headed to his girlfriend’s 30th birthday party. Aveyard had a green light to go straight when he struck the rear of a white van that turned left, crossing his path.
Aveyard’s parents were camping when the accident happened, celebrating their 29th wedding anniversary. His girlfriend and her friend decided to call local hospitals when he didn’t arrive for the birthday party.
Mrs. Aveyard said they were told he arrived at the hospital with the helmet still on. “He must have taken it all on his head. He didn’t have any other physical injuries other than a slightly bruised lung,” said Mrs. Aveyard.
The van’s driver didn’t have a license, but the van had the minimum insurance coverage of $15,000, Mrs. Aveyard said.
“That insurance company called me yesterday, and they accepted responsibility,” said Mrs. Aveyard on Wednesday.
When Michael and Karen Aveyard first got to the hospital at 2 a.m., the waiting room was overflowing with their son’s friends and co-workers.
Doctors first thought Aveyard was brain dead and said he wouldn’t be able to work again, but the people visiting, calling, and donating have helped the Aveyard family maintain hope.
“The neurologist seemed to be our best advocate,” said Mrs. Aveyard. “That everyday he [Aveyard] would do more purposeful movement, and that he was young, and that was in his benefit, and it would just take a very long time. Of course, they can’t say to what extent he’ll recover.”
Aveyard’s parents slept in the hospital, where The Cheesecake Factory brought them food. A donation box was set up for Aveyard at the restaurant. His regular customers visited him. A co-worker from Macy’s in San Diego, where Aveyard worked for three months five years ago, heard about the accident and paid a visit.
“She said she liked him so much,” said Mrs. Aveyard. “She goes, ‘He was so respectful of the women at Macy’s,’ and made an impact on her life. And that’s what we’ve been experiencing.”
Aveyard is loud, his sister, Whitney Aveyard, said. The center of attention, Aveyard studied at the New York State Theater Institute during his senior year at BKW, in 2003. He was a contestant on The Price is Right game show in 2008.
His sister remembered Aveyard having a videographer during their sister Samantha’s wedding follow him around as he held the microphone and introduced guests during the reception, shouting messages to the newlyweds, conducting interviews, and calling for a speech from Whitney.
Aveyard’s sisters, Whitney and Samantha, in New York, maintain a Facebook page, “B’s Journey,” where clips of the wedding commentary have been posted.
“We’ve become closer together because we realize anything can happen,” said Whitney Aveyard of herself and her sister.
They called on the Facebook page for a group prayer at 6:33 p.m. on a Monday to reflect when Aveyard was born. Everyone was asked to wear green, the color of The Jets, his favorite football team.
“That night, he started opening his eyes,” said Whitney.
Food vendors, a bouncy bounce, a Disc Jockey, face-painting, and drawings for prizes will be at the Curry Freeze ice cream shop in Rotterdam, on 1057 Curry Road, from noon to 4 p.m on Oct. 19. Proceeds will go towards an account for Brandon Aveyard’s medical and transportation expenses from California to New York. The event is open to the public.