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Friday, 31 October 2014

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Cyclist walks two days after breaking back in four places

A cyclist who took his first steps only two days after breaking his back has spoken of his miraculous escape.

Ian Curwen photo
Ian Curwen

Ian Curwen fractured four separate vertebrae, cracked four ribs and was knocked unconscious in the freak crash just over a week ago.

The 31-year-old, who is communications manager for Copeland Council, said he and a friend had been out cycling with the Honister 92 cycle club on Sunday February 17.

Speaking to the News & Star, Ian recalled: “It was the first time I had been out with them, and we were coming down Cold Fell. I was just going faster than I should have been for the road. All I can remember is coming to a corner and thinking ‘I’m going quite fast here’.

“Next thing I remember is waking up and there were people telling me it would be okay.”

His fellow cyclists rushed to Ian’s aid, including a woman who is a nurse. She ensured Ian was not moved until the ambulance arrived.

Ian was taken to the West Cumberland Hospital, in Whitehaven, but was transferred the following day to the spinal unit at the Royal Victoria Infirmary, Newcastle.

Despite the severity of his injuries, Ian was fortunate not to be paralysed. He had an operation to put metal pins in his spine, but has astounded even medical staff with his recovery.

“A nurse there when I was brought in couldn’t believe, when she was back in on the Tuesday, that I was up and walking,” he explained.

“I was really lucky – all the fractures were in the thoracic area, and I think it was more protected by muscle or fat.

“I know how fortunate I am.”

Ian, who is recuperating at his father’s home in Thornhill, near Egremont, is speaking out about the crash to highlight the importance of wearing a cycle helmet.

He said: “My helmet was in two pieces. People say to me even now that they don’t really make a difference, but that impact would have been on my head – and you can’t say that wouldn’t have done more damage.

“I got my bike about a year ago, as part of the cycle to work scheme, and I automatically got my helmet with it. I didn’t think twice about it.”

Ian, who lives in Bransty, also wants to thank everyone who has supported him since the accident.

“I want to thank Honister 92 for a start,” he said. “They have been really supportive: leaving messages on their forum and sending a card.

“West Cumberland Hospital and the Newcastle RVI were both brilliant as well.”

Ian continued: “I especially want to thank my girlfriend Kim, my mum, my dad and my sister – I know it was hard for them.”

While Ian admits walking is “sore” – although he blames this as much on his healing ribs – he knows things could have been very different.

For now, he is signed off work for a minimum of six weeks until his next check-up.

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