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I thought I had lost my Ian, says injured rider's partner

By Deborah McAleese

Published 29/07/2015

Ian Simpson was badly injured at the Armoy races and had to be airlifted to hospital
Ian Simpson was badly injured at the Armoy races and had to be airlifted to hospital
An ambulance transfers the injured rider to the helicopter
The air ambulance comes down to land in Armoy
Front-runners: Guy Martin and Dean Harrison at the start of the 600cc race at the Armoy

The partner of road racer Ian Simpson, who was critically injured in a crash at the weekend, has spoken of her fears that the father-of-one might not have pulled through.

Katrina Hartin said that Ian has been making dramatic improvements since the smash at the annual Race of Legends event in Armoy on Saturday afternoon.

Scans have revealed that he has not suffered any serious head injuries.

"On Saturday he was termed critical because of the knock to his head. They weren't sure of the full extent of his injuries until they did a head scan. That was a long wait for the results. You just don't know what way it is going to go," said Katrina.

She added: "Thank goodness we are now just dealing with broken bones. They will heal. He had a good helmet on. His head wasn't even sore, there's just a bit of bruising.

"The nurse said on Monday that as long as he doesn't get any infections he could be out by the weekend. He just wants to get home. It will take a while for his injuries to heal."

Katrina and Ian, who have a young child together, got engaged earlier this year.

She said that she had been watching the race from the side door of her hairdressing salon in the village when she realised there had been a smash. "It didn't enter my head it was him. It wasn't until about 20 minutes later that I released it was. It was a terrible time. After what happened to Dr John Hinds so recently, I didn't know what to think," said Katrina.

"Dr Fred (MacSorley - former partner of Dr John Hinds who was killed at a motorcycle event earlier this month) was one of the first at the scene. It must have been difficult for him to attend the crash after what happened to John," she added.

Ian was airlifted to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast following the collision at Church Bend during the 400cc Supersport race.

He was placed in intensive care, but as his condition improved he was later moved to a high-dependency unit.

He is now in an open ward at the hospital.

"It has been a really difficult time. You can't help but worry about what could happen. But at least now we know it is going to be okay. He is going to mend," Katrina said.

She added that it was too early to know when Ian might be back on his bike again.

"I have always been really nervous about him riding bikes. We haven't really talked much about what is going to happen next, about his racing again.

"But one of his first questions was 'how's the bike?' So I'm sure that he'll be wanting to get back to it as soon as he can," said Katrina.

Pressure has been growing for an emergency medical helicopter after the Irish Coastguard had to provide a helicopter to help Ian.

Fortunately, the Irish Coastguard chopper was on a training exercise with Belfast Coastguard at the time and was able to divert very quickly to the crash site.

The collision, just weeks after Dr John Hinds died, has heaped pressure on the Health Minister to address calls for an air ambulance here. Dr Hinds had been campaigning for an air ambulance when he died.

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