JACK Batson was one of the South Coast's top up and coming sportsmen.
Batson, from dominating the state swimming scene to establishing himself as an outstanding Australian Football product, had the sporting world at his feet.
However, all that changed in the blink of an eye on Friday, February 28.
After dropping his brother Hayden back home in Cambewarra, the 17-year-old was travelling along Moss Vale Road towards Bomaderry just after 8pm, when he was involved in a two-car accident.
"The last thing I remember is picking my brother Hayden up from work at 8pm," Batson said.
The impact of the accident was so severe, the Bomaderry High School student sustained numerous injuries and was immediately airlifted to St George Public Hospital.
"I completely smashed my entire face," he said.
"They [the doctors] had to put nine plates and 12 screws into my face, as I'd damaged my eye-sockets, cheekbones, nose and jaw."
Other injuries the Bomaderry Tiger suffered included a break to two ribs and his fibula, a cracked pelvis, a fractured skull, cutting his arm muscle to the bone, a bleed on the brain and substantial bruising to his knee and back.
He was in the Sydney based hospital for more than two months, which included visits to the plastic surgeon to help reconstruct his face.
"I was released on May 13, a little earlier than expected because of COVID-19," he said.
"I was so excited to head home because that's all I wanted to do once I woke after the accident in hospital.
"Being in the hospital for that long was extremely tough but all the love and support I received from home helped me massively with my recovery.
"From the visitors to the messages I received, it was amazing to know so many people cared."
Batson, once he returned home to Cambewarra, started his long road to recovery.
"Going out in public when I first got out of the hospital was hard - people would stare at me all the time," Batson, who admits he wasn't the most cooperative patient, said.
"So was looking at myself in the mirror, because that's not the person I remember."
Mixed in with a lot of sleeping, he gradually restarted activities such as walking around the block.
"It was great to start walking again but I can't wait to get back in the pool and start swimming - I miss it so much," Batson, who still has nerve pain in his face, knee and back, said.
"I still do get tired easily and I don't like too much noise but I'm adjusting each and every day."
During this time, Batson also had weekly appointments with St George Hospital - which at first were in person before transitioning to teleconference when the coronavirus pandemic hit.
Those appointments have gradually eased with his recovery, which will be marked by a milestone moment for him on Wednesday: the removal of his mouth wire.
"I can't wait to get the wire removed - it's been super frustrating," he said.
Another big moment in his recovery was his return to school earlier this month.
"It was a big step and very overwhelming," the year 12 student said.
"Bomaderry High have been amazing.
"I am going in to meet my teachers as much as possible and doing as much one-on-one work with them as possible.
"I'm only back two of days a week at the moment, as I still get quite tired but it makes me feel like a normal kid once again."
As it closes in on three months since the accident, Batson appreciates he wouldn't be where he is today without the support of his family and close friends.
"Mum has been an absolute superwoman, being there by my side every step of the way," he said.
"Nan, pop, my brothers James and Hayden and sister Jasmine have all been super supportive too, as has my best mate Sam and girlfriend Holly.
"I have always been close with my family but I'm now closer than ever before.
"There's been plenty of tears and low points but they've all been my rocks at certain times and for that, I can't thank them enough."
The inspirational teenager, who has been advised by doctors to not play footy again, has a message for anyone has is going through a tough time in their life.
"You don't really know what you have until it's almost stripped away," Batson, who restarted driving three weeks ago after receiving a doctor's certificate, said.
"You can't take the little things for granted in life - it's precious, so make the most of every second."