Seven weeks on, George back to school

20:43, Mar 11 2014
George Crotty
SPECIAL CARD: George Crotty, 8, with the special get well note and photo sent to him by New Zealand Winter Olympics athletes Beau-James and Jossi Wells from Russia when he was recovering from a serious head injury in hospital.  

Seven weeks after suffering a head injury on a bouncy castle, 8-year-old George Crotty has returned to school and is delighted he remembers his friends.

On January 23, a freak gust of wind lifted the large blow-up climbing wall and bouncy castle George was playing on at the Pisa Moorings Restaurant, near Cromwell. The castle was thrown over the restaurant and George was lifted into the air and slammed into a wall before being found motionless on the concrete.

Since then he and parents Dave Crotty and Helen Best have been through a rollercoaster ride of unknown prognoses and slow recovery.

On the day, George was flown to Dunedin Hospital. His Hawea-based parents were not with him. George had been on a school holiday programme while Ms Best, a fulltime student, was working and Mr Crotty was in Russia snow-grooming at the Sochi Winter Olympic Games.

Mr Crotty rushed home to be by his family's side. "It was the longest 40 hours of my life."

George suffered three bleeds to the brain and spent three days unconscious.


One of the brain bleeds was close to the mid-line. "The closer to the mid-line, the worse the outcome," Ms Best said.

It was six days before George spoke. His first word was "popsicle". After eight days he started to walk and was later transferred to the Wilson Centre in Auckland, a specialist unit for children with head and spinal injuries.

During his recovery he was thrilled to receive a special get well note and photo from Wanaka athletes Beau-James and Jossi Wells, sent from the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

The family returned home last week and George has started back at Hawea Flat School part-time. He said it was great to be back with his friends, who were eager to find out whether he still remembered them. He could remember them all, he said.

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment is investigating the incident.

A longer interview with George and his family is in this week's Mirror.

The Southland Times