Onlooker saves cyclist dragged under truck

CAROLINE KING
Last updated 10:34 30/07/2013
Cyclist
DEAN KOZANIC/Fairfax NZ

CRASH: Christchurch roofer Richard Mitchell says the truck dragged the cyclist up to 30 metres. The cyclist, in his 30s, is in an induced coma in Christchurch Hospital.

Richard Mitchell
STACY SQUIRES/Fairfax NZ
EVERY DAY HERO: Richard Mitchell waved down a truck driver who was unaware he had struck a cyclist. Police say Mitchell’s actions saved the cyclist's life.

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When Richard Mitchell dared peer under a truck and trailer moments after it struck a cyclist, he expected the worst.

But miraculously, the man was alive.

Had it not been for Mitchell's quick thinking seconds earlier, the cyclist would have been dead, police say.

Mitchell could not believe his eyes as the cyclist, wearing a hi-vis vest, was dragged underneath the 18-wheel truck in Sockburn.

The 57-year-old roofer was waiting in traffic in Curletts Rd when the cyclist was hit in the Meadow Fresh factory driveway about 7.30am on Friday.

He knew something had to be done, and fast.

Mitchell sped up alongside the truck to the driver's door, keeping his horn blaring.

''If he didn't stop I was going to drive in front of him,'' he said.

He caught the driver's attention, who stopped - then panicked when told he had struck a cyclist.

''He wouldn't have felt [the cyclist] . . . He ran around the truck looking. He said 'where is he? where is he?' He was in shock. He lost it.''

Mitchell and police believe the cyclist was dragged about 25-30 metres. The bike was left mangled under a wheel.

''I didn't want to look under the truck. I honestly didn't,'' Mitchell said.

Mitchell found the man ''tangled'' between the drive axles, his helmet ''spilt in two'', but amazingly he was still conscious and able to talk.

He even managed to tell Mitchell his name and age.

Mitchell phoned 111, while another passerby continued to talk to the pinned cyclist and placed a hi-vis jacket underneath his head.

Firefighters freed the seriously injured man, who remains in an induced coma in Christchurch Hospital.

A hospital spokeswoman said he was in a critical but stable condition.

Senior Constable Graham Flynn credited Mitchell's actions with saving the cyclist's life.

''Other people would've been shocked by what they'd seen. They wouldn't have reacted as fast. I honestly feel if he hadn't have done that I would've been looking at a fatality.''

However, Mitchell said anyone would have done the same in his position.

''You just do what you do.''

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