'It's been a tough ride': Man's fight for life after crash
DETERMINATION, support and a massive passion for motorbike riding has seen a Bundaberg man go from fighting for his life and losing the lower half of his left leg, to getting back to the activity he loves.
Graham Crowden doesn't remember a thing about his trip toward Benaraby - not leaving Bundaberg on the back of his Harley Davidson, not the vehicle allegedly pulling out in front of him in Avondale, and certainly not the crucial moments that followed the high-speed collision.
"The last thing I remember of that day was leaving the gymnasium at about 7.30 that morning, going home, having a shower, and that was about it," he said.
On October 27, 2017, Mr Crowden was left fighting for his life, requiring witness Phillip Hickmont to perform CPR while emergency services were en route.
Bundaberg's RACQ LifeFlight Rescue Helicopter had diverted from a hospital transfer job that day to fly him to Bundaberg Hospital with serious injuries, and the Sunshine Coast helicopter transferred him to the Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane the following day.
He said less than a month later he was pleading for his leg to be amputated - a decision which he said hadn't been tough to make, as he woke up each morning to the smell of rotting flesh and his muscles were deteriorating from sitting in a wheelchair for so long.
"I could have looked like a really badly disabled person with a mashed up leg for the rest of my life, or I could have been as I am today with a prosthesis that, when I wear long pants, nobody really knows because after a little bit of practise you learn to walk really well," he said.
The support of his wife, daughter, and motorcycle club Consolidated Bikers of Australia, was what Mr Crowden said helped push him to get back on his feet, and back on his bike.
"Had it not been for them visiting me, reassuring me, encouraging me throughout all this time, I probably would never have made it this far," he said.
"Even personally, you've got to really want to be here, because it has been a long, very difficult road.
"It's been a tough ride."
Yesterday, Mr Crowden and his family reunited with the LifeFlight team that helped save his life that day, including Pilot Frank Bertoli, who said he still remembered the incident in detail.
"It's always great seeing past patients come back, especially when they're looking fantastic again ... it makes you feel like you've achieved the task that you're out to do," Mr Bertoli said.
Mr Crowden said he felt he owed a debt of gratitude to the people who helped save him, and wanted to meet the crew to thank them for what they did, but had told himself he wouldn't face them until they could see he had bounced back from the life-changing event.
"There are things that I always used to do that I will never do again, but at least my number one hobby motorcycle riding is the thing that I was doing when the accident happened ... to be doing it again now means I've made a full recovery."