A Wigan athlete who suffered appalling injuries after being thrown from his bike during a competition has thanked paramedics who saved his life.
Paul Sutton, 44, was racing in the Helvellyn triathlon on September 3 when the back tyre of his bike blew out.
The father-of-one was travelling up the Kirkstone Pass when the incident occurred, leaving him with serious injuries.
Mr Sutton, who is head coach at Wigan Invictus Triathlon Club, sustained a broken right collarbone, damaged joints in both shoulders, ten broken ribs, a punctured lung and a broken vertebrae. He also had air and blood in his chest cavity.
“The bike had gone sideways and I dug in but then it flipped me in the air and I remember hitting the ground hard and seeing the sky,” said Mr Sutton. “I lay there confused and thought I was in a dream. I kept thinking I was going to wake up in a minute. I was unaware of the damage and was wiggling my feet to check they were alright and thought ‘thank god for that.’ In actual fact I was fitting and not breathing.”
The Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) paramedic and doctor team assessed and treated Mr Sutton before airlifting him to Royal Preston Hospital, where he spent the next ten days recovering.
Mr Sutton said: “From the moment the air ambulance medics arrived their efficiency was fantastic. You can tell that the GNAAS team are professionals at treating trauma patients. They gave me the level of care needed, and got me from Kirkstone to Preston in 24 minutes which is brilliant. It would have taken an hour by road so I have nothing but praise for them.”
Mr Sutton has been racing in triathlons for nine years and tries to complete a dozen every year. After hearing the news of his crash, a member of the Wigan triathlon club completed a double ironman while another completed a triple ironman, raising more than £400 for GNAAS.
“The club have been very supportive and my wife Ruth has been amazing and took a week off work to look after me,” added Mr Sutton. “My daughter Hannah has also been helping me with my recovery which I’m very thankful for.”
Paul’s injuries are healing well and he hopes to be fit enough by July next year to compete in the Lakeland 50, a long distance trail race in the Lake District.
GNAAS is a charity and last year needed to raise £5.1m to survive. It responded to 1,042 callouts across the region. To fundraise call 01325 487263 or visit www.gnaas.com