Kerri-Anne Kennerley will never forget the day her husband fell of a balcony and broke his neck.

Kennerley had just played in a golf tournament at Coffs Harbour and was attending a presentation of prizes.

Kerri-Anne was there too, and when a few ladies asked her to be in a photo, her husband of 30 years stepped out of the shot. Kerri-Anne insisted he step back in.

“[He] lost his balance and fell backwards. Spearheaded the ground,” she told reporter Mike Willesee.

“And as soon as I went round … went round a few steps down, and he was then on his side.

All he could say is, ‘I can’t feel anything’. “And we were then waiting for the ambulance.


I just sat at his head and said everything was going to be OK. Nobody wanted to roll him.”

Once at the hospital, a doctor told Kerri-Anne that they had put her 75-year-old husband in a coma, and while they’re “pretty good at it, it doesn’t always work”.

She was then told to “have some words” with John. Asked what the advice from doctors was, Kennerley said: “It’s gonna be a year. It’ll be a year before you know what he’ll be left with. And we don’t know.” Diagnosed with incomplete quadriplegia, John cannot breathe by himself and no longer has use of his legs or arms — but can feel his wife’s touch.

Kerri-Anne has spent every day in hospital with her husband since the accident, and has seen his communication skills slowly improve. He can now point to letters on an alphabet chart and mouth words.

“But watching him be sad, it’s like I’m inside my head, screaming, that it’s not real. But it is,” she cried.


“He’s trapped in his mind, he’s trapped in his body. He can’t speak. He can’t touch me. All I can do is ever so gently hold his head and one shoulder — he’s even torn a ligament in one shoulder — and kiss him.”

Then, John recounted a dream he had last week. “He said, ‘I dreamt you got fed up of all this and left me.’

I said, ‘That’s never gonna happen.’”


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