In a split second, Matt Tudor's life changed completely.
At 6.30am on October 19, the butcher and father-of-three packed two of his kids in the back of the car to drive from the Central Coast to Armidale to pick up his fiance.
Less than 10 minutes down the road at Kulnura, he turned around for a second to tell his son Reuben, two, to sit down.
It was enough time to slam head-on into a ute at high speed, throwing the car off the road and leaving his family with horrific injuries.
After more than six weeks in a coma and four surgeries at Westmead Hospital, Mr Tudor, 30, woke two weeks ago to be told Reuben snapped his vertebrae and will never walk again.
"It wouldn't sink in, it still hasn't," he said while fighting back tears. "I'm still a bit of a mess."
Tudor and his fiance, Harmonie King, have a long and expensive road ahead like the thousands of people hospitalised from road accidents each year.
They are part of the "hidden" road toll, a growing number of people seriously injured on the state's roads, costing $3.4 billion a year.
Ms King has had to rent a unit in Westmead and live off welfare and charity donations, looking after her 11-month-old daughter while darting between Mr Tudor and Reuben's hospital beds.
Mr Tudor said he is going insane in hospital, with physical discomfort and mental anguish wearing him down. When they eventually return home, it will be with a disabled child and a slowly-recovering father.
"I feel useless because I was doing everything," he said. "I get snappy at Harmonie sometimes because I'm just that pissed off at myself because I can't do anything. But I'd be lost without her."
As he was catapulted out of the car, Mr Tudor's seatbelt squeezed his insides so severely that he had to have his bowels and 5.2 metres of intestines removed by surgeons, leaving him with a colostomy bag.
His lungs partially collapsed and his legs were completely crushed. Lily, four, snapped both her ankles but was discharged after four days.
Mr Tudor is already contemplating using his experience to raise awareness of road safety.
"Our life has changed, the life we had before the accident is completely over now," said Ms King. "We have to focus on our new life and our new changes and adjust to them and make that our life now."