Funds pour in to help dad

Holly ThompsonSound Telegraph
Richard Onderwater with his grandchildren.
Camera IconRichard Onderwater with his grandchildren.

A GoFundMe campaign has raised about $25,000 to help support a Baldivis man who, after a tragic accident in May, became a paraplegic.

Richard Onderwater has lived in the Baldivis community since 1999.

On May 7 this year, he went up to Northam to help repair a friend of a friend’s house.

He was doing some work up on the roof and after finishing the job, went to go back down.

As he was walking back to pack up his tools, he stepped on a skylight painted the same colour as the roof and fell through.

His son, Tyrell Onderwater, said his father landed on a step underneath and broke his L1 vertebrae and partially severed his spinal cord.

“So then they called the ambulance and rushed him to Royal Perth, where he had surgery on his spine and put it back together as best they could, with some metal bars and screws,” Tyrell said.

Richard Onderwater in hospital after the accident.
Camera IconRichard Onderwater in hospital after the accident.

“He spent a long time in Royal Perth and then he was transferred over to Fiona Stanley for rehabilitation.”

Tyrell said he had wanted to do something to help his father during such a difficult time and decided one of the best ways to do so would be to raise some funds to buy equipment to help him in everyday life.

“I noticed a lot of my friends were asking what they could do to help — they all felt like they really needed to do something,” he said.

“I figured the best way to help would be to raise funds for a wheelchair and a couple more quality-of-life items to help him as he goes into this next chapter of his life.”

He said many people had donated to help his father after the fundraiser had been shared online by friends and family.

“The main thing is we want Dad to continue to live his life, like he did before the accident, as much as possible,” he said.

“He loved going to the beach, playing games with his grand-children and camping — that was probably his main thing.

“I would love to have enough funds to make camping a possibility for him, so he can continue to pursue his passions.”

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