Belfast Telegraph

MLA Douglas knocked off bike by car 'blessed to be alive'

By Angela Rainey

An MLA says he feels "blessed to be alive" after he was nearly killed after being knocked off his bike while out cycling.

Sammy Douglas was hit by a car on the Malone Road early on Wednesday morning, sustaining suspected broken ribs on each side and possible broken fingers in the accident.

The East Belfast DUP MLA had been taking a leisurely cycle to Botanic Gardens for an early morning visit.

When he got there the gates were locked, so he made his way homeward via south Belfast where he was hit from the side by a car near Piney Hills.

The keen cyclist, who covers in excess of 200 miles each week on his bike and often tweets pictures of wildlife en route to work, had been hoping to cycle in the Giro d'Italia Gran Fondo event this Sunday.

Strangford MLA Jonathan Bell and Junior Minister Alastair Ross had planned to team up with him to raise money for the Multiple Sclerosis Society.

But with his left hand and ribs strapped up and under strict doctor's orders to take it easy for the next three weeks, Mr Douglas has had to relinquish his race place.

Instead, he plans to see his friends off from the starting line at Titanic Belfast.

"I've had some X-rays taken but strangely the doctors don't know if the ribs are broken until they start to heal," Mr Douglas said. "There could be some hairline fractures.

"I had set off about 5.30am down the Castlereagh Road onto the Comber Greenway and past Titanic - it's a route that I really like because I pass the shipyard where my father worked.

"Then I decided to go through town to Botanic but it was closed and it was on my way through Malone that I was hit full on by a car.

"It knocked me right off my bike and at first I hadn't even realised I had been hit, but thank God I had my helmet on or I would've had a serious head injury or have been killed."

Mr Douglas's helmet was badly damaged, his clothes were destroyed by road burn and his bike needed a new wheel.

He was taken to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast where he was checked over and given an ECG to check his heart.

Doctors advised him not to drive or cycle for at least three weeks and to take strong painkillers to numb the pain and help him breathe properly as fractured ribs can stop the lungs from properly inflating.

"I was speaking to John Kyle (PUP member who is also a GP) and he said such near-death experiences can have a real affect on people," he said.

"It's true, because I have been rehearsing it over in my head and it can really bring you down when you realise in a split second it could have all been over.

"When I think that the car hit me and my head took the brunt, I feel blessed to be here. I could have been killed.

"Thank God I wore my helmet."

Get well soon messages have been flooding in from his colleagues and other politicians.

Mr Bell said: "Sammy asked me to take part in this race and I'd hardly been on a bike for years, but he has such a nice way. Had anybody else asked me I would have had to think about it.

"He's an inspiration to so many people, so if any good can come out of this accident we hope that people will support the charity."

SDLP MLA Alex Attwood added: "Knowing Sammy, it'll take more than an accident to knock him off his stride."

Sammy said he hopes despite his accident people will still help to boost the team's fundraising.

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