Crash teen raring to race

MATHEW GROCOTT
Last updated 11:09 01/01/2014
Mark Walsh/SUPPLIED

The crash that hospitalised Ethan Rees on Saturday night.

Ethan Fafeita-Rees
BATTERED AND BRUISED: Ethan Fafeita-Rees was in hospital yesterday recovering from the crash.

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The Palmerston North teenager involved in a serious speedway crash at the weekend is already talking about getting back behind the wheel.

Ethan Fafeita-Rees, known in the speedway fraternity as Ethan Rees, suffered a fractured eye socket, fractured shoulder blade, three fractured ribs and a collapsed lung in the accident at Arena Manawatu on Saturday night.

Yesterday he spoke to the Manawatu Standard from his hospital bed in Palmerston North, with bruising on his face and a bloodshot eye the only obvious signs of what he had been through.

Ethan, 16, said he hoped to be discharged from hospital today. However, it would be at least two months until he recovers from his injuries.

Asked if the crash had put him off racing, Ethan was adamant it had not. "I'm still keen but it will take a bit of time to get used to it again. I'm definitely keen to get back behind the wheel."

Accidents were just part of the sport, he said.

However, the crash has put on hold his plans to start an apprenticeship as a car painter.

Ethan said he remembered seeing a crash in front of him and then hitting one of the cars involved during qualifying for his Group 4 race on Saturday night.

The bumper from that car, driven by fellow Palmerston North driver Jamie Southee, went through the open window of Ethan's car, striking his helmet.

Ethan was knocked out and recalls waking on the infield of the track, surrounded by ambulances.

Initially unaware of the seriousness of his injuries, Ethan climbed out of the car himself when he heard officials at the track wanted to cut the top off his car to free him.

He also remembers after he came to, his dad, speedway legend Peter Rees, running towards him calling his name.

Mr Rees said he was amazed at his son's progress since the crash. "When I first saw him he looked a mess."

He described his son as a "lucky boy". Mr Rees was comfortable with the idea of his son returning to the sport, though he did not want him to race again until the next season begins in October.

The cars had a lot of safety equipment built into them, he said, but Ethan's crash had been one of the worst he'd seen in his almost two decades in the sport.

Ethan's mum, Kelly Duffy, said she was at home when she received a call about the crash. She arrived at the hospital before the ambulance on Saturday night and had been at her son's side every day since.

While her son had bounced back "pretty fast" from his injuries, she was aware things could have been more serious. "At least he's still here."

Ethan said he had had no shortage of visitors since the accident.

"That's meant a lot, it's showed that people really care. My mum and my girlfriend have been up here a lot, and the old man."

He and his family were also grateful to the medical staff at Palmerston North Hospital who had looked after him and the responders at Arena Manawatu who helped him immediately after the crash.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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