PALM SPRINGS, Calif. - A young Valley man was making great progress Monday, after he was left in a coma in critical condition last month.
18-year-old Trey O'Connor was the victim of a violent assault outside a house party in Palm Desert in August. His family now describes his recovery as 'miraculous.'
"Fine, fine. I'm alright," he said outside the Desert Regional Medical Center in Palm Springs.
It was just weeks ago that O'Connor underwent hours of brain surgery, after which doctors told his parents he had survived but beyond that, they could not promise anything.
"You go through life and you're wishing for a beach house. You're wishing for this and you're wishing for that," said Trey's father Richard O'Connor. "The other day, I was just hoping my son could breath on his own."
For the past thirty days, Richard took the night shift at the hospital so his wife could be there during the day. Slowly but surely, he has watched one breakthrough after another.
"I would talk to him and say 'Come on Trey. Say dad. Say dad. Just squeeze my hand,' and then one night he squeezed my hand and I had to wait," Richard recalled as his voice broke with emotion. "I had to wait for the doctors to show up so I could tell them."
Fast forward to present day and Trey has made tremendous improvement.
"A week ago he couldn't walk, he couldn't talk. He couldn't do anything really. All of a sudden a light just went on," said Richard. "We took him off life support and he could breath, and next thing you know he could ride in a wheelchair and he could stand."
Trey is now even able to walk short distances and after spending the past 4 weeks recovering inside the hospital in Palm Springs, he is now waiting to be transferred to the UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles where he will continue his recovery.
"He's going to get the attention he needs, (sic) until he gets better," Richard said.
Trey's family attributes his recovery to the help of prayer, and the doctors, nurses and local community who rallied around them.
"I'm humbled by the whole thing. It's changed me for sure," said Richard. "There's life at the end of the tunnel. Thirty days ago, I didn't have any idea what to expect so I just want to thank everybody for being so nice."
Richard said the family plans to rent an apartment near the UCLA facility so they can be nearby while Trey continues on his road to recovery. A Go Fund Me account has been set up online to help the family with some of the medical costs associated with the ordeal.
In the aftermath of the assault, three men and one juvenile male have been arrested and charged. Richard says he plans to prosecute to the full extent of the law.