Daredevil in coma after world record

JUMP START: Australian BMX dirt jumper Dane Searls.
JOHN HAWKINS/The Southland Times
JUMP START: Australian BMX dirt jumper Dane Searls.

BMX rider Dane Searls risked life and limb on Friday to set a world record jumping gaps of up to 18 metres but it was his celebrations 48 hours later that left him in a coma fighting for his life.

Searls, 23, was partying at Billy's Beach House in Australia's Surfers Paradise when he tried to dive into a pool from a first floor balcony last night.

He missed and instead hurtled head first into the cement below.

He was taken to Gold Coast Hospital where he remains in a coma with head and back injuries.

Paul Everest, director of Unit clothing which sponsors the popular BMX rider, rushed to the hospital last night and returned again this morning as family, friends and fans keep a bedside vigil.

''He is in intensive care, gravely ill, fighting for his life,'' said Mr Everest.

''He comes from a strong family, some of the nicest people you will ever meet.

''He's obviously been hurt riding BMX but it is such a shame an accident like this has occurred in a nightclub.''

Mr Everest said Searls had broken a world record on Friday on jumps that had been specifically built for him at Boonah.

He did a series of four jumps, the first was a 9m gap, the second a 12m gap, the third a 15m gap and the last an 18m gap, all from a height of two to three storeys.

Mr Everest said he was celebrating the jumps yesterday when he decided to dive from the balcony.

''He has pushed the sport to a whole new level,'' he said.

''He was doing that on Friday and doing it in style. ... We're just praying for a miracle.''

Searls emerged on the world BMX stage after being filmed for the Giants of Dirt videos last year riding a course that had some of the biggest dirt jumps in the world.

Messages of support have started to flood social networking sites for the ''legend''.

@Khalenyoung tweeted ''Watching Giants Of Dirt. Dane Searls is a beast. Thinking of ya mate.''

@BDosch wrote ''Dane Searls your a Champ! You will be in our thoughts and prayers. Pull through brother.. #staystrong''.

Gold Coast police superintendent Paul Ziebarth said the Criminal Investigation Branch, a liquor enforcement team and a division of workplace safety were investigating the club.

''That they are a safe environment for patrons and also that they are responsible in their service of alcohol, those are the two issues that will be the focus of our investigation,'' he said.

''The main concern for me is we find out if responsible service of alcohol and a failure to maintain a safe environment are involved, if those elements are involved at all we will certainly be reporting that to the officer of liquor and gaming regulation.''

A spokesman for Billy's Beach House said there was a private record label launch on at the club when the accident happened.

He said the event had "absolutely nothing to do with Schoolies".

"We were completely in compliance - the police and the firefighters came and checked it out and were happy with the way we were operating," he said.

Brisbane Times