Belfast Telegraph

Cyclist Kieran aims to revisit route of horror accident in Spain

By Anna Maguire

He trained for nearly a year to cycle through the peaks of Spain, but within three hours he found himself with multiple injuries after colliding with a four-wheel drive vehicle on a rural mountainside.

Experienced cyclist and father- of-two Kieran Crawford was left hospitalised in the mountainous area of Guadalest in south east Spain for nearly three weeks after a holiday with a cycling group went badly wrong.

The 47-year-old Coleraine man suffered a broken shoulder and ribs, a cracked sternum and punctured lung when he met the off-roader on a mountain pass.

Hitting the vehicle’s windscreen, he was propelled through the air before landing on his back on the Tarmac.

Crawford — who had become separated from the rest of the group of cyclists — can recall hearing the frantic mobile phonecalls of the driver and his wife’s hysterical cries as they waited nearly an hour for an ambulance to arrive.

He was transported to a small mountain hospital in Alcoy, where they tried unsuccessfully to treat his punctured lung which was fast filling with blood.

Six days after his admission, he was rushed to Alicante General Hospital.

Without any Spanish, he found himself alone and unable to communicate with the doctors treating him, but the pain was enough to indicate the extent of his injuries.

The threat of respiratory arrest was very real — staff at Alicante General Hospital drained more than two litres of blood from his lungs.

The bleeding finally stopped after five days in hospital, but the ordeal was far from over.

Doctors had ruled out the possibility of taking a flight until his lungs were strong enough to endure the air pressure.

Booking into a hotel in Alicante, Kieran grew accustomed to a daily routine of breathing exercises recommended by the hospital’s doctors.

He said it was a lonely existence — hundreds of miles away from home surrounded by people he could not communicate with.

He said: “Even if you found yourself stranded in London or somewhere, you could at least speak to people around you.

“I couldn’t really communicate with anyone for 13 days — which added to the mental anguish.

“At one point I was vomiting and the pain with the cracked ribs... I can’t describe it.”

Nonetheless, the experience was life-affirming.

Despite the ordeal, he intends to return to Spain next year to do the same trip.

“I will be cycling past the same corner, which will be hard, but if I could get back to Spain before the autumn I would, because it’s a hurdle I think I need to get over.”

He added: “The lesson from this is life is for living.

“I would class myself as a safe cyclist and always on the ball, but within a second on that mountain corner everything changed.”

Story so far

Kieran Crawford spent 24 days recovering from a collision after a cycling trip through Spainish mountains was cut short within hours of his arrival. The 47-year-old lorry driver — who has 20 years cycling experience — collided with a 4x4 in the peaks of Guadalest in south-east Spain. His injuries were extensive. He sustained a cracked sternum, a broken shoulder and three broken ribs. His lung was also punctured in several places.

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