Badly hurt Leicestershire kitesurfer battling to walk again
A man seriously injured in a kitesurfing accident is learning to walk again.
Dave Coley, of Leicester Forest East, was nearly killed when a freak gust of wind caught his kite and threw him 20ft into the air before dumping him on the sand in Hunstanton, Norfolk.
The accident happened in June and he has been having treatment at various hospitals since.
Dave is now being treated at Leicester General Hospital, where he is having physiotherapy and speech therapy.
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He said: "I can't remember a thing. I know only what my wife has told me.
"The last thing I remember is running up to the kite. I can't really remember anything until I got here. I think I was lucky to survive it.
"I won't do it again. I think I'll stick to windsurfing in future.
"I'm getting better, slowly. It's just my balance. Having a caring family around me is helping my recovery.
"My wife and my daughters are looking after me. I've got to relearn how to do things. I'm taking it one day at a time. I don't know how long it will take."
The 52-year-old sewing machine mechanic suffered head injuries, a broken neck, two fractured shoulders, a fractured pelvis, two broken arms and five broken ribs in the accident.
He was found unconscious, face down, by chance by a lifeboat returning from another rescue.
Dave was first taken to Kings Lynn Hospital, but he slipped into a coma and was transferred to the critical care unit of Addenbrookes Hospital, in Cambridge, where he spent three weeks.
He was moved to the intensive care unit at Leicester Royal Infirmary, before transferring to the brain injury unit, then the Young Disabled Unit at Leicester General Hospital, where he is learning to walk.
Debbie, 52, said: "I was there when it happened, but I was sitting in the car keeping out of the rain. When it stopped, I went down to watch him.
"I didn't see what happened, I just saw him being rescued."
A witness described seeing Dave dragged into the air then slammed down like a rag doll. We think he was carried about 20ft into the air by a freak gust of wind and dropped back down into the sea," said Debbie.
"At first, he was talking. He knew who I was, although he was obviously confused. They thought he had just broken his wrists."
Debbie contacted daughter Victoria, 26, who drove from Harrogate, in north Yorkshire, where she was on a day out, to be with her parents.
The couple's other daughter, Rebecca, 29, was on holiday abroad with husband Chris.
Debbie said: "Victoria managed to get here before he lost consciousness and was transferred to Addenbrookes.
"We spent the next three days and nights at his bedside.
"The staff at Addenbrookes were fabulous. There was a nurse at his bedside 24 hours.
"Our daughters have been very supportive throughout.
"The accident happened on the Friday. The following Thursday, we got back home at about midnight.
"At 3am there was a call from the hospital to say he had suffered multiple strokes and we should get back there.
"I hadn't told my daughter who was in the US. I texted her on the day she was due back.
"When she arrived at Heathrow the police were there to meet her and they were at Addenbrookes two hours later.
"The following Monday, the consultant was amazed because Dave was able to move his arms and legs and open his eyes.
"The consultant said he shouldn't be able to do that. They think it's because he's so fit that he was able to.
"He's been a windsurfer for 26 years and only took up kitesurfing four years ago."
Debbie said her husband had been a sewing machine mechanic at Alan Godrich Sewing Machines for 33 years.
"The boss, Chris Godrich, has been very supportive," she said. "He came down to Addenbrookes two or three times and visits him every week since he's been back in Leicester."