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Race fan Violet back at North West 200 year after horror crash almost took her life

By Nevin Farrell

Brave Violet McAfee, who cheated death after a crash at last year's North West 200, has returned to the event as she eases herself back into watching the sport she loves so dearly.

On a visit to the pits area to pick up VIP tickets for the main day of action, given to her by the organisers of the event, the 45-year-old Portrush woman revealed she had suffered a setback in her recovery and would need a bone graft but was still determined to keep her spirits up.

Following a hospital appointment in Belfast earlier this week, she went to the course after the riders had finished for the day and felt comfortable enough to pose for a photo on a motorbike.

Violet has no memory of the accident, but she fears that the high-octane sights and sounds could trigger flashbacks.

The racing fan, who still has a metal brace attached to the leg shattered in the incident, was left critically ill after a machine crashed at 100mph, flew into the air and struck her.

The accident saw English rider Dean Harrison come off between York Corner and Mill Road roundabout, only to escape unhurt. Two racers behind him were also thrown off. Stephen Thompson from Crumlin was badly hurt and later lost an arm, while Horst Saiger from Liechtenstein suffered minor injuries.

When Violet returned to the scene last month she said she wanted to attend the race but would not make a decision until the last minute. She has now decided to go with twin sister Elizabeth.

"I was up at Musgrave Hospital and practice is over, so I didn't get down to see how I would feel at the races themselves, but it is grand here," she told the Belfast Telegraph.

"On Thursday my sister and I are planning to come down when the bikes are racing and see how it goes. If I'm not enjoying it I'll go, and the same on Saturday.

"The bone graft will be done on May 31 and hopefully there will be a full recovery after that and I will get the cage off. It is a setback, but not a horrific one."

The racing fan also revealed she hoped to meet up with Saiger, and expressed sympathy for Thompson, who will not make the event. "He has a lot of healing to do yet," she said.

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