Thirteen-year-old Joel was cycling downhill at speed when he hit some gravel and was catapulted over the handlebars of his bike. He somersaulted three times before finally hitting the road head first. A police officer following just behind saw the accident unfold. She put Joel in the recovery position and called for an air ambulance. A doctor at the scene was the first person to say that Joel’s helmet saved his life – a view that was to be repeated several times.
Joel was airlifted to Plymouth Hospital but because of the seriousness of his head injury he was immediately transferred to the Frenchay Hospital in Bristol. Joel underwent a major operation to remove a blood clot from his brain and insert a drain and a monitor. His parents, Matthew and Jo, had to sign a form to say they understood that he might not make it through the operation.
After the surgery Joel was put in an induced coma for three days and was in hospital for nearly three weeks. When he came out of his coma he didn’t even know who his parents were.
“That was heartbreaking,” said his mother, Jo, “but fortunately Joel went on to recover his memory very quickly and make a remarkable recovery.” However, he still suffers from a few memory problems, has mood swings and gets frustrated and required extensive dental work to replace the seven teeth he lost in the accident.
Joel’s accident has had a lasting effect on the whole family.
Jo said: “The first time Joel went out after the accident I was terrified but I know how much cycling means to him and that I have to let him do it.” The family know Joel is lucky to be alive and that his helmet saved his life.
Jo said: “The paramedics at the scene and the hospital doctors both said the helmet he was wearing saved his life. I am just thankful that we insisted he wear one and that it was properly fitted. Every cyclist should wear one – it could save your life one day.”