James Maddock (22) was racing in the opening stage of the Gorey 3-Day when he tangled wheels with a fellow rider and crashed head first into the road.
Paramedic Eoghan Connolly, who was also competing in the event, realised the seriousness of the situation and quickly came to assist the stricken Maddock.
“I was 62 kilometres into the race and I remember hitting the wheel in front of me and then bang; I hit the ground and I remember nothing after that,” said Maddock.
“We were travelling about 50kph and I was in and out of consciousness for three or four hours after it. I remember groaning on the ground, waking up, seeing Eoghan, but not much else. I was soaked in blood. There was blood pouring out of me. But as soon as Eoghan came upon me he helped keep me calm. I remember him joking with me, saying ‘ah Maddock you’re after ruining my chances of winning the Gorey 3-Day’.”
The ambulance that followed the race was immediately on the scene but Connolly felt it would be wiser to transfer Maddock to Dublin as quickly as possible.
“Eoghan asked for the chopper because I’d have been brought to Wexford hospital and then probably to Dublin but with the chopper I went straight to Dublin. I had head injuries and I was cut right open and Eoghan knew that was the best option.
“I remember thinking ‘Jesus am I dying here or what’s the story?’”
Maddock was diagnosed with a heavy concussion as well as severe cuts and bruises – including a gash to the head that required 20 stitches.
“I have 20 stitches in my face, a bad cut across my forehead but it’s healed up very well since the accident. I’ve 10 stitches on my knee and no movement in my right leg yet. I couldn’t lift it for the last week. I split the helmet from front to back. If I didn’t have the helmet on tightly I’d have been killed stone dead. I lost a lot of blood as well. I was in a puddle of blood on the road.”
He continued: “I can’t thank Eoghan enough. He was allowed start the stage the following day and he actually finished the race on Monday. He could have done very well only that he stopped to tend to me so I’m eternally grateful.
“There was another crash on the final stage about a kilometre from the finish line and he was there again for that. He finished the stage, did a U-turn and went back to tend to those who’d crashed. He is a legend.”