Car Accident Victim Dies After Family Loses Australian Court Battle to Maintain Life Support

An Australian car accident victim died Thursday after his family lost a legal battle to keep him on life support in a hospital, an official said.

Paulo Melo, 29, from Darwin on Australia's north coast, slipped into a coma after suffering brain and spinal injuries in a Dec. 5 accident.

His family gained a temporary injunction in the Northern Territory Supreme Court on Tuesday preventing the Royal Darwin Hospital from switching off his life support system, which had kept him alive.

But a judge lifted the injunction Wednesday, describing the patient's medical condition as futile.

Melo's family said his life support was removed late Wednesday but he continued to breath unaided.

Police spokeswoman Katie Fowden said Melo died in hospital Thursday.

Hospital officials declined to comment.

Melo's siblings and parents maintained that he had been making progress, moving his eyes and head in response to his family's visits.

But more than 20 medical experts agreed there had been no chance of recovery.

Melo's sister, Isabel, said he appeared to try to speak to his father before his life support was turned off.

"Various people went in and it always appeared as though he was trying to speak," she told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio.

"We thought that he was calling out for dad and things like that, but it wasn't clear speech but it appears as though he did speak," she added.