JUSTIN Elder is the latest victim of the "cowardly" king hit, which has become a feature of violent late-night assaults in the Hunter.
Police have confirmed the 17-year-old was knocked out cold and his jaw shattered after a youth, who had been drinking, hit him from behind at Nobbys Beach car park at about 10.30pm last Friday night.
The teen from Aberglasslyn was spending time with friends at the Newcastle Foreshore and was racing over to stop two other youths breaking into his car when the attack happened.
"I was yelling out to them to stop and that's the last thing I remember," Justin said.
Justin's father Michael has described the act as "cowardly" and called for tougher penalties for his son's 17-year-old attacker, who was dealt a caution under the Young Offenders Act after admitting to the offence.
"Once you see the lump from the back of his head to his temple where he cracked his head on the concrete, you know how lucky he was," Mr Elder said.
"There's been three or four blokes killed with these king hits round here lately . . . people need to realise what their actions do and how they impact on others' lives."
The attack occurred on the same weekend as a nationwide blitz on alcohol-related crime and follows a string of reports about late-night violence in the region.
Last month 32-year-old Greg Newton died in Beaumont Street, Hamilton, when an alleged single punch caused him to fall and hit his head on the pavement.
Weeks earlier father-of-two Tom Biviano was king-hit while trying to break up a fight near The Valley Brewery, and Jamie Purdon of Raymond Terrace was killed in February after being king-hit at Maitland.
Newcastle City duty officer Inspector Gerard Lawson said it was unfortunate king hits had become a frequent feature of alcohol-fuelled crime.
"The most worrisome thing is that they usually result in some pretty significant injuries," Inspector Lawson said.
"The victims are hit unsuspecting and without any notice so they can't prepare themselves for the blow."
A plate has been inserted to hold Justin's jaw together, restricting him from any vigorous activity and forcing him to eat through a straw.
"I'm not looking forward to the holidays this year," Justin said this week.
The Elder family's traditional journey to Stockton to spend the holiday beachside has now been shelved, casting a shadow over the typically joyous time of year.
"He wouldn't be able to go in the surf, he couldn't go body boarding," Justin's mother, Sharlene, said.
"It's put a dampener on everything. We're going to try and have a nice Christmas, but I think it's going to be pretty horrible."