Driving my quad bike through the sugar cane fields on my family’s 6.5 hectare farm, I headed towards my favourite fishing spot – a creek on the edge of our neighbour’s property.
It was September 2022, and my mum, Ros, 45, and brother Jackson, 10, were back at the house a kilometre away.
Casting my line, a few minutes later I got my first nibble. What a beauty, I thought, reeling in a huge tarpon fish.
Since I was old enough to hold a fishing rod, my dad, Ben, 45, and grandfather, Col, 71, had shown me the ropes.
And when I wasn’t busy with school or helping out on the farm, I loved spending my spare time down by the water.
Throwing my catch back in as I always do, I headed farther down the creek to another spot.
With sugar cane harvesting season in full swing though, the haul-out trucks had left behind some loose gravel on the edges of the dirt road.
‘Be careful, Ted,’ I heard Mum’s voice in my ear as I rode along.
While I’d been riding motorbikes since I was three, my family bought a three-seater 4WD farm utility quad bike – which I called a buggy – a couple of years ago. But Mum was always reminding me to stay sharp behind the wheel.
Just then, as I was going around a corner, the bike skidded on the loose gravel, and I lost control.
Panic coursed through me as the quad bike started tipping to the left, teetering on two wheels.
Then everything went black…
Coming to moments later, I realised I’d fallen out of the vehicle and my left leg was pinned underneath the 483 kilo buggy. I was in complete shock.
Using all my strength, I reefed my leg out from underneath the vehicle.
'Be careful, Ted.'
As blood spurted out, I noticed the skin and muscle on my shin had been completely torn away from the bone.
This is bad, I fretted, peering around for help.
Spotting my neighbour’s place 200 metres in the distance, I found my balance and I got up onto my feet.
Turning off the buggy, I hobbled in their direction.
As I made the slow journey, every step became more and more painful.
Losing a lot of blood, I’ve no idea how long it took me.
But when I finally knocked on the door, I had to hold onto the wall to stop myself collapsing.
‘I’ve had an accident on the buggy,’ I told my neighbour Lucie, 16, when she answered the door.
Noticing the trail of blood behind me, she called triple-0 while I lay on their front lawn.
Hearing the commotion, her mum, Zoe, 42, rushed out to help.
While Lucie spoke with the dispatcher, Zoe wrapped a towel around my wound to try and stop the bleeding.
‘The ambulance is on the way,’ Lucie assured me.
While we waited, her grandma Mary took Zoe’s place, while she drove to my house to tell Mum what had happened.
Racing to be by my side, Mum was horrified when she saw my injury.
When the ambos arrived 15 minutes later, I was taken to Proserpine Hospital, Qld, where doctors cleaned gravel and debris from my wound.
Leaving Jackson with my grandma Pam, 68, Mum and Dad raced to hospital to be with me.
‘Ted has degloved his shin,’ the doctor said, explaining I’d lost a lot of skin and tissue and would need surgery to reattach a nerve to help save my leg.
‘You’re going to be okay,’ Mum soothed.
Later that night, we were transferred to Mackay Base Hospital, 1.5 hours away, where a specialist team was waiting to operate.
When doctors were happy with how it was healing, I was airlifted by the Royal Flying Doctor Service to Queensland Children’s Hospital in Brisbane, where I had skin grafted from my right thigh to cover my wound.
'Ted has degloved his shin.'
Over the next week, I underwent daily debridements to clean my wound and prevent my leg from becoming infected.
Never leaving my side, Mum sent Lucie and Zoe updates throughout my recovery.
‘We’re sending love from the farm,’ they said.
Finally, one month after my accident, I was allowed home.
For the next six weeks, I returned to the hospital every two days to have my dressings changed.
Having to spend so much time in bed meant I lost a lot of muscle mass in my leg, so I had to be careful with how much weight I put on it.
Now, 10 months on, I still sometimes walk with a limp, but I’m working to regain my full range of motion and strengthen my muscles.
I’ve lost the feeling in the top of my foot, but I refuse to let it hold me back.
To thank Lucie and her family for helping me that day, we gave them a basket of gifts.
We included a set of brand-new bath towels to make up for the ones I ruined after the accident.
I’m so grateful to my awesome neighbours – they saved me!
‘You had me worried there, Ted!’ Lucie admitted, pulling me in for a cuddle.
While I’m back riding my buggy, I now keep my distance from the edges of the road.
A freak accident almost stole my leg, but that won’t stop me from doing what I love!