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Family Fights to Get Local Man Home and Out of Utah Hospital

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OAKDALE --

An Oakdale man who was severely injured in a DUI crash in Utah in 2012 is still in a Utah hospital waiting to hear if he'll be able to heal back at home.

"The whole right side of his head was caved in. I didn't think he was going to make it," Michael Peterson said.

Peterson's son, now 25-year-old Eric Peterson spoke with FOX40 via Skype from his hospital bed in Utah, where he has been under close medical supervision for the past three and a half years. He can not walk, but can talk despite suffering a traumatic brain injury.

In 2012, a DUI driver was charged with stealing a police car and rear-ending Peterson's car while he was at a stop sign near Salt Lake City, Utah. Peterson's family said the charge of stealing a police car was eventually dropped, but the DUI charges remained.

Years after being trapped in that wreckage, Peterson says he feels trapped in his hospital bed in Utah.

When Eric Peterson's father asked him if he wanted to stay, there in the Utah hospital , he repeatedly shook his head 'No' and gave a thumbs down.

"Oakdale, California," Eric Peterson said.

"Eric is all there, he understands what you're saying, he just has a problem getting it out," Eric's uncle Gary Peterson said.

Gary Peterson spoke with FOX40 from his home in Oakdale. He said the state of Utah appointed his nephew a professional legal guardian after the crash because neither of his parents were deemed financially responsible to care for him.

The family says their financial stability has been made even more unattainable since Michael moved to Utah to care for his son in the hospital.

"For now, Eric is my job at this point. And, and that's okay. That's okay. I'll put my life on hold for this man," Michael Peterson said.

Eric's family has been fighting for years to get him home to a treatment facility in Stanislaus County, but says his legal guardian has been unable to find a local care home that will accept him.

"They have control over every aspect of Eric's life at this point, we have no say, we have nothing," Gary Peterson said.

FOX40 spoke with Kent Alderman, the attorney representing Eric Peterson's legal guardian over the phone Monday. Alderman said Eric's story is truly a sad one, and one that has been complicated by Medi-Care and Medi-Caid policies across state lines. He said because Eric will likely need around the clock medical treatment for the rest of his life, it has been hard to transfer him to another hospital in California.

He says, he's seen other patients go through a similar struggle to transfer to a different care facility in the past.

Eric Peterson's family says his healing can only truly start when he is back home.

When asked what he wanted to do first if he makes it home, Eric Peterson responded that he wanted to walk again.

"Basketball. Football. Hell Yeah," Eric Peterson said.

Peterson's family has started aChange.Org petition online to challenge the Department of Justice to help get Eric back home.

They are praying that if the story is shared enough, someone can help get the process started.

To sign the petition, you can go to Eric Peterson's Facebook page at: "One Man's Wish" on Facebook :
https://www.facebook.com/OneMansWish/

You can also directly access the petition HERE.