A TEENAGER has told how he feared being unable to walk again after a paragliding accident.
George Graham fell almost 30ft to the ground and felt searing pain in his back and legs.
He was airlifted to hospital but luckily he only suffered muscle damage to his back as he had landed in a muddy field, which broke his fall.
George, 17, spoke about the accident at a presentation of a £692 cheque to the Thames Valley and Chiltern Air Ambulance Trust by Watlington Concert Band with whom he plays the trombone.
He praised the flying medics, saying: “Thank you to the crew that were on duty that day for everything that they did.”
The accident happened in December as George was paragliding with his father Murray at his home at Field Farm, Lewknor.
He said: “I was being towed up in the air and part of the equipment broke which caused the paraglider to collapse. From about 20ft or 30ft I fell straight down to the ground. I knew what was happening and that I didn’t have much time. I tried to go limp because it would help when I hit the floor if I wasn’t rigid.”
George, a pupil at Shiplake College, said as soon as he hit the ground he had pain in his legs and back.
He said: “That was an extremely worrying time because I was in a lot of pain and my back was hurting. I knew it was a big possibility that I’d never be able to walk again or certainly it would take me a long time to recover.”
His mother Sue dialled 999. George said: “Within 30 seconds there was a Land Rover with an off-duty air ambulance doctor on the scene. I then had two paramedics in support vehicles and an ambulance as well.They thought I’d damaged my back and possibly legs so they put me on a spinal board. Within a couple of minutes the air ambulance landed. There was a trauma doctor and a paramedic on board who both came out and assessed me. When I was told the helicopter was coming I was absolutely terrified because I know they only call out the air ambulance when it’s a really serious accident.”
He was flown to the John Radcliffe Hospital in Oxford where he was given X-rays and a CT scan.
George recalled: “Although I was in a lot of pain they said it was just muscle damage. I’m extremely lucky because people who fall from that height normally never walk again. The fact that I fell on to a muddy field probably helped break the fall to some degree. There was something happening that day or someone looking down on me.”
George, who is still having physiotherapy to try to correct his posture, has not been paragliding since the accident but is planning to do so again once he is fit and has taken his A level exams in May and June. “My mum’s banned me until after I’ve done them,” he said.
He said flying was his passion and he is planning to learn how to fly a helicopter at Wycombe Air Park in the summer.
The cheque presentation took place at Pyrton Village Hall. Watlington Concert Band raised the money by playing at various events over the Christmas period and will now support the trust for the rest of the year.
Volunteer Ian Goold received the cheque on behalf of the trust and said: “To raise that amount in such a quick time is fantastic. Thank you very much for your support, we’re most grateful.”
Lady Mogg, the band’s 99-year-old president, said: “I’m so proud to know George and his family. He never made anything of the accident at all.”
* The air ambulance, a twin-engined helicopter, is based at RAF Benson and has two pilots and a paramedic on board. It costs £10,000 a day to run and is funded entirely by donations from the public.