The mother of the elite cyclist left fighting for his life after a collision with a car is overjoyed at hearing him speak for the first time since the accident.
Alexander Ray, 27, was taken to Auckland City Hospital in a critical condition after the accident on April 18 at the intersection of Morningside Drive and New North Rd.
He was placed in an induced coma.
He suffered collapsed lungs, 28 breaks in his ribs, a broken clavicle, dislocated jaw, fractures around the right eye socket, cracked pelvis, six damaged vertebrae, deep cuts to the face and neck, and two broken teeth, his mother Tracey Ray said.
Her son was in critical care for eight days and underwent facial reconstruction, she said, but a few days later he could form words such as "good", "yes" and "no".
And the following day he was able to ask his mum: "Hello, how are you?".
She replied: "Oh darling, it's so good to have you back ... because until you were able to talk, we weren't quite sure."
Tracey said while her son's speech was "very clear, very articulate", he "can't remember some of the words I think he wants to use ... and he loses track of things".
"I'm not sure that he's really registering anything on his right side," she said. "I think he can see, I just don't think his brain's processing what he's seeing."
Alexander was on a training ride when he was injured in the 6am crash. Tracey and husband Peter were informed by police three hours later, she said.
"They said, 'Alexander's had an accident, he's in ICU'. If you hear those words, you know it's life [or] death."
He had an operation the next day to repair his jaw, which had dislocated at the skull and fractured at the chin.
Last week he had surgery to his nose and upper jaw and around his eye, Tracey said.
He was moving his limbs.
As an elite athlete "his fitness level is superb", which would help his recovery.
"Physically he's doing really, really well, and now all we have to worry [about] is the prognosis for his head injury."
Tracey and Peter wanted to thank all the medical and support staff for their care of and concern for her son, and family, friends and members of the cycling community who had rallied around and were visiting Alexander, now in the neurological ward, each day.
Messages of support were coming in from around the world.
From age 20-26, Alexander competed with overseas teams during the New Zealand winters, Tracey said. This year he rode for Team McDonald's Down Under.
Friends had set up a GoFundMe page, which had raised more than $10,000.
It is the second time in 18 months Tracey and Peter have been at their son's hospital bedside as he battles for his health.
Preparing to ride in the 2016 Tour of Southland, he was instead admitted to Invercargill Hospital with leptospirosis and airlifted to Dunedin Hospital.
The condition made his liver and kidneys begin to shut down, his skin yellow and he required dialysis.
"When they say, oh we think you should fly down to Dunedin and be at his bedside, that's very scary," Tracey recalled.
She had caught the first available flight there.
Alexander recovered and went back to Europe to compete last year.
Her son was "a real fighter", Tracey said.
But "this is the last of his nine lives".
Adding to the parents' concerns was news their daughter Olivia, 19, also an elite cyclist, had come off her bike on the road in the United States last weekend and suffered concussion.
"She has a headache and she's not racing for the next two weeks," Tracey said. She was otherwise all right.
Olivia, who won the elite women keirin final in February's track national championships in Invercargill, is on a scholarship at a college in Savannah, Georgia.
Alexander lived for cycling, his mother said.
He first started competing at 13 while at Auckland Grammar. By his late teens he was fielding offers from teams around the world.
If he recovered fully from the horrific crash, "he'll be back on his bike".
The crash is being investigated by the Serious Crash Unit.
Police are appealing for witnesses to the crash. Anyone with any information is asked to
contact Constable Colin Nuttall on 09 481 0773.
To donate to Alexander Ray head to GoFundMe.