Blackspots: I thought 'I'm going to die'

Last updated 05:00 05/07/2013
rail crossing
BLACK SPOT: Leslie Dolphin suffered life-long injuries in a crash near a rail crossing.

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When I was 18 (40 years ago) I had a motorbike. Admittedly it was to big for me, but the accident I had was not avoidable, or in any way my fault.

I lived in Christchurch and was heading home on a Friday about 5pm. It was December and very hot and the tar on the road was running.

I slowed down as I went over the rail crossing of Selwyn St and Hazeldean Rd. A car came from my right along Hazeldean Road. The driver slowed down and appeared to stop, but then accelerated off. I applied the brakes hard but the slope of the crossing meant I could not stop the motorbike. I still remember seeing the faces of children from the rear window just before I hit the car.

I was catapulted from the bike, I remember clearly looking down and seeing the bike bucked up against the car below me. I remember thinking 'I'm going to die' and then 'I must land on my feet'.

I did land on my feet on the other side of the road (apparently, as I don't have a memory of landing), but I do remember hitting my head time after time as I rolled down the road.

The car eventually stopped about 20 metres away but the driver never got out to help. That was left to the driver following me who had to go away and call the ambulance. 

I had a compound fracture of the leg and some less serious hand and head injuries. The leg injury at the time required a bone graft, and all up I spent eight and a half months in a full length leg plaster. I had residual loss of movement in the ankle and some fairly serious scarring and some deformity in the leg.

Back then you sued, and it took three years to get a lump sum.

Since the accident, osteo arthritis has set in. The arthritis eventually destroyed my ankle joint causing incredible pain and considerable disability. Eventually the ankle was fused and that causes its own problems with my altered gait affecting my back.

The lump sum from the original injury has certainly not covered the costs of the ongoing surgeries required, and the disability by any means. I cannot access ACC for those costs either.

I am an active person and I ride in endurance. That accident has definitely limited my options for participating in sports and recreational activities such as tramping and skiing. The leg is still a bit of a liability and needs constant care.

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But all things considered I am extremely fortunate to have survived and have a the life I have, especially in light of the terrible things that happen to other innocent people.


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