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Mountain bike crash survivor reunites with CareFlight rescuers

Former RACQ CareFlight Rescue patient David Hessey visited CareFlight’s Gold Coast hangar today to personally thank the rescue crew who rushed to his aid on July 5.

The 42-year-old was seriously injured in a mountain bike crash on a track at Wyaralong Dam at Mt Joyce.

“My partner Tamara and I were riding down a slope when I suddenly lost control,” David said.

“I was thrown over the handle bars, landing hard and fast.

“I was in and out of consciousness and was having trouble breathing.

“Tamara lifted my arm to help roll me over as I’d landed face down and I remember thinking ‘whose arm was she holding’ as I couldn’t feel anything.

"That's when I realised I was in a bad way."

David suffered a fractured neck in the horrific accident, damaging the second and fourth vertebrae, and fracturing the third vertebrae in his spine.

He lost all movement and sensation from the neck down.

CareFlight’s Gold Coast-based helicopter was tasked to urgently airlift the Brisbane local.

RACQ CareFlight Rescue Aircrewman Luke Pagano said the community rescue helicopter was the first to arrive on scene.

“CareFlight’s Critical Care Doctor Jordan Webb and Flight Intensive Care Paramedic Ian Tucker were winched from the helicopter to the injured man,” Luke said.

“The patient was then transported by road ambulance to a nearby area of land where the helicopter landed.”

The rescue crew airlifted David to the Princess Alexandra Hospital.

David received specialist care at the hospital’s Spinal Injuries Unit for nearly three months.

He was placed in a spinal traction to relieve pressure on the spine for six weeks and a halo-thoracic brace to hold his neck in place for a further six weeks, all the while undergoing intense occupational therapy and physiotherapy.

Despite being told that he might never walk again, David has miraculously regained use in his hands and can walk by himself.

“I am so fortunate, as the spinal surgeons' diagnosis was my injuries would leave me a quadriplegic requiring permanent ventilation,” David said.

“Just being able to stand up and walk again is the best feeling ever.

“I’m the luckiest person in the world.”

David and Tamara took a rare behind-the-scenes tour of the aircraft hangar this morning.

Today's reunion was also the first time David had seen the Gold Coast crew involved in his rescue, airlift and mid-air treatment since his terrifying ordeal.

David met CareFlight Aircrewman Luke Pagano and Critical Care Doctor Jordan Webb.

“Thank you so very much for your exceptional professional services. I am also a nurse at the Princess Alexandra Hospital, so being a patient was a very humbling experience,” David said.