Four broken vertebrae, broken ribs and a collapsed lung.
A 31 year old mountain biker spent seven hours – mostly at night – awaiting rescue after injuring himself on a Shropshire hillside.
The rider headed out for a quick evening ride on his own last week. The rider went riding on Corndon Hill near Minsterley and Bishop’s Castle in Shropshire. [See full details below]
The rider suffered bad injuries, including four broken vertebrae, broken ribs and a collapsed lung.
A rescue was duly launched but the injured rider was not taken off the hill until 5am. Whereupon he was taken to Salford Royal Hospital.
The rescue took longer than it might otherwise have done. Longtown Mountain rescue explained: “Low cloud meant the Maritime and Coastguard Agency helicopter from St Athan landed off the hill, meaning a long and steep carry off. The casualty was flown to hospital, in Manchester. We wish him a speedy recovery.”
The rider – Ben Llewellyn – has been in touch with us and given us his detailed account of what happened. Here it is…
“Last Tuesday night I had set aside for final bike preparation before stripping and boxing up the bike for the 5th round of the Enduro World Series in Millau.
- Pic above: Ben Llewellyn racing at EWS Ireland
“I started riding around 6:30pm doing test runs of the same trail to fine tune suspension set up, the trail finishes almost on my doorstep so I was going back with the data from the previous runs and adjusting the bike accordingly.
“At approximately 9:30pm I left home for the final time telling my fiancé Jade I wouldn’t be long. Bearing in mind it takes me 15mins or so to get to the top of the trail, leaving me plenty of time to be home before dark. I was also using Strava Premium where someone is able to track my ride.
“I got to the top of the trail and set off cranking. The bike just had that confidence-inspiring feeling where everything was running perfect. I felt good. The bike felt good. I made a mistake blew out the rear tyre and went over the bars. I can remember the bike bouncing end-for-end with the rear tyre hissing.
“Instantly I knew there was something wrong as I couldn’t breathe, I had a lack of sensation in my left leg and spasms in my right. I didn’t move from the position I landed in but I was relived I could wiggle my toes.
“My worst nightmare came into play as when I took the impact it caused my phone to freeze. After approximately 30 mins of trying to restart it I managed to call 999 at 21:56 pm.
“I spoke to Sally at the Liverpool switch and explained I was very short of breath and I’d broken my back. I explained my location, then went on to Google Maps, got my co-ordinates and passed them on to her. To start with I was calm explained to her that a land ambulance was unable to reach me and I was in trouble. I asked her to please send the air ambulance. Now knowing I’d collapsed my right lung I was lay on my left side with my right arm over the top of me so I could support my body weight to keep breathing.
“I kept being re-assured that someone was on the way but they couldn’t tell me when or where from. My condition was deteriorating and after 40 mins or so on the phone I was begging for info but she couldn’t give me any.
“Now it was approximately 10:40pm and getting dark I put the back light on my phone and started waving it slowly back and forth towards the village as I knew where I was and the location of my parents house.
“A few minutes passed I saw my parents’ kitchen light flash. With this I shouted as loud as I could without risking collapsing my other lung. My Dad heard me and they made their way up to me. They drove as far as the could up the road then ran and were with me in 15 mins or so.
“After 56 mins I passed the phone to my mum and Sally assured her that someone knew where we were, they would be there shortly and she had to go to keep the line clear now there was someone with me.
“By this time I was completely drained. I was starting to drift in and out of consciousness and my breathing was very irregular. On this and after 30 mins or so my Mum called the emergency services and had to go through the whole procedure again. After another long time on the phone we eventually go the news that Brecon Mountain Rescue were on the way but had struggled to find us. My fiancé Jade flagged them down on the road and made their way up to us. By this time it was well past midnight.
“As soon as James from Brecon Mountain Rescue saw me he called in to get a helicopter out. I was struggling to breath at all, taking short, sharp, laboured breaths. The Mountain rescue were amazing. They got me onto a spinal scoop, took the pressure off my good lung, kept me warm and kept checking my observations.
“A couple of things to note: I didn’t know until now it’s protocol to send a first responder to a casualty before a helicopter is sent out, and the air ambulance doesn’t fly at night.
“A coastguard helicopter was sent from Anglesey and arrived with us at approximately 1:30am. The trouble was by this time the mist had come down around the hill making flying conditions tricky so they were unable to land. They landed in a field at the bottom of the hill and now it was up to the mountain rescue to get me down.
“They did, everything was safe, calculated and they continued to let me know what was going on. Even asking me for the best route down the hill. Dad had the job of wheeling my Intense Tracer down.
“By the time I go into the helicopter it was 5:40am. By 7am I was in Salford Royal Hospital having emergency procedures.
“I wouldn’t change anything I did on the trail. The things I have taken from this is: buy the best equipment available to you. My Troy Lee Designs A2 MIPS helmet took the impact keeping me conscious and able to call for help. This helmet 100% saved my life. I was also wearing TLD bike kit, gloves, knee pads, SiDi cycling shoes and a back protector. The medical professionals here said undoubtedly having good kit is the reason I’m here now.
“I’d like to take the time to thank all at Brecon Mountain Rescue and the Coast Guard. The staff here at the Salford Royal Hospital have also been amazing.
“I’ve been in hospital just under a week. I’m back up to 90% lung capacity, I have a slightly reduced sensation in my right leg compared to my left, my back is stable and I’m hoping to be back up on my feet in the near future.
“I am well aware of the risks involved in the sport and I take that into account every time I turn a pedal. It’s my responsibility, I wouldn’t change anything about that night. It was just one of those things.”