Vaughan Watson, 29, Nelson, NZ
It was the last day of the school holidays. Both teachers, my wife Danielle, 28, and I had been mountain biking. This time, I’d gone for a ride by myself along a tricky 40km trail that I knew well.
But about an hour into my ride, disaster struck. My wheel clipped a log and I veered off course into the bush. Still on my bike, I felt a huge smack against my leg as it hit a tree. When I looked down at my right leg, my shin was sticking out at an angle.
Trying to move my leg, the pain was almost unbearable.
I felt overwhelmed with pain. Falling off my bike, I lay on the ground in shock.Trying to move my leg, the pain was almost unbearable.
I reached into my backpack for my phone to call for help and text Danielle. But to my dismay I had no service. I wondered how long would it be before my wife realised I was in trouble.
I knew I’d had service earlier in the ride, so I tried to retrace my steps. Propping my right leg on my left one, I leant forward on my elbows and dragged myself along the ground. Every few metres I stopped for a rest. It was exhausting!
A night out in the bush could mean I’d freeze to death.
'I’ve screwed up and I’ve got a broken leg,' I wrote. 'I’m sorry and I love you.'
I started to type a message to Danielle. If the worst happened, at least she’d know I’d thought of her. I’ve screwed up and I’ve got a broken leg, I wrote. I’m sorry and I love you. Only recently married, the thought of not seeing her again was heartbreaking.
After two hours of crawling, I’d moved about a kilometre. Suddenly I got patchy reception, coming and going every few seconds. I managed to fire off a text to Danielle with my location.
Her worried reply came back. I’ll call for help.
An hour later, I heard a chopper overhead. But the trees were too dense to reach me. Then, my phone battery died. I felt so alone and hoped help was coming. By nightfall, I was shivering with cold.
With great relief, at around 10.30pm, I saw the flash of a torch. Given pain relief, I was then stretchered out to a helicopter.
Danielle was waiting at the hospital. ‘I’m so happy to see you,’ she cried.
I needed surgery to fix my broken shin and dislocated knee. I feel so lucky.
Next time I go for a ride, I’ll pack an emergency locator beacon tracker. I never want to be without a signal again!
Originally published in that's life! Issue 28, 2016.