Wales on Sunday Interview
Last week I spoke with the Wales on Sunday about my story. The article was published in the paper on Sunday, with the full article below...
Driver woke upside down paralysed
But now dad has learned to walk again and aims to ski for Great Britain in Paralympics
A Dad who was left paralysed following a horror race crash has spoken about his “miraculous” recovery – which has led to him to training to be selected for next year’s winter Paralympics.
Chris Lloyd, 43, who lives in Pontypridd, was driving the Ford escort MK2 car with a navigator in September 2011 in Caerwent when they hit a sharp corner at speed.
The car flipped 10 feet into the air in the crash, sending it fling onto its roof and rolling more than 150 metres. The car then hit a tree and the impact left Chris’ spine “crushed” in places. A panicked Chris woke up to find himself dangling and trapped upside down and unable to move his arms.
He said: “We came into a corner flat out but it wasn’t a flat-out corner. We were going too fast. I was trying to hold onto the steering wheel to regain control.
“The car left the road and flipped and landed about one and a half times the length of a rugby field away. “It was upside down. A tree had hit the roof of the car. The roof came down and hit my neck and damaged my spinal cord. “I woke up upside down. I was paralysed. My hands were hanging down but I couldn’t move anything from the neck down. “The worst thing was being trapped in the car and waiting to be cut out. “The only feeling I had was I wanted to get out.”
Dad-of-two Chris had to wait nearly two hours for rescue teams to finish cutting him out of the wrecked car. His navigator escaped from the wreckage unharmed.
Chris was later told if he had been sitting just inches further over, his head would have missed the impact that gave him life-altering injuries. He was rushed to hospital where doctors found serious damage to his spine. Weeks later they also found he had broken his back.
They then delivered the devastating news to the active dad, who was also a keen skier, that he would likely never ski or drive a rally car again. Chris spent three months in a hospital bed, paralysed from the neck down.
Determined to prove doctors wrong, he started trying to learn to walk again in a “miraculous” sign of recovery and began to set his sights on hitting the slopes again. It was when he saw a poster for the 2012 Paralympic games in London that he started to dream of representing Great Britain in the sport.
Just six years on he is skiing again and could be heading to Pyeongchang, South Korea, for next year’s winter Paralympic Games in March.
He said: “It was quite scary just not being able to move. But my physio gave me hope that we would get everything working again. “When I left hospital I still had a long way to go. I could only walk a really short distance. I couldn’t get onto a chair or get up to the bed or the bath. It was just 12 months after the accident that Chris put skis on again at the Tamworth Snowdome.
He said he was “just concentrating on getting to the bottom of the slope” and quickly found he would need to learn to ski again, something he first started doing at 14. Chris also faces added challenges. The accident has left him with 60% less strength in his right leg and 50% less in the left.
He tires more easily and struggles to concentrate. But he has competed in several international competitions as a British Parasnowsport Skier in the Giant Slalom, Super Combined, Super-G and downhill events. He is now busy training for next year’s winter Paralympics and hopes to be selected for the GB team.
In a heart-warming twist Chris, who has been with his partner Jessica, 38, for 19 years, proposed to her from his hospital bed a week after the crash. Happily, she said yes.
He said: “I was quite emotional when I was in hospital. It was just an emotion that came over me and I just asked. “She was crying and said yes.”