Editorial: Courage on heroic journey

By Andrew Austin

It must take tremendous courage and strength of will to pull yourself back from death's door.

The front page lead in yesterday's Hawke's Bay Today told the incredible story of Richard Goodley, who was involved in a horrific crash with a truck on Pakowhai Rd earlier this month.

We were able to publish a photograph of him sitting up in his bed at an Auckland rehabilitation unit, with a slight smile on his face.

It has been quite a journey for the 34-year-old Hawke's Bay man.

It started as a normal Friday afternoon for Mr Goodley and his partner Sarah Lister. They were on their way to pick up their 16-year-old son Nathan from school when they were involved in a crash with a truck. Details of the accident are still not clear, but Ms Lister told us at the weekend that the crash would have been head-on if Mr Goodley had not swerved at the last moment. His swift reaction meant that the impact of the accident was on his side of the car and his partner was able to escape unharmed.

She says a doctor and ambulance staff had real concerns about Mr Goodley's chances of survival and, if you look at photographs of the wrecked car, you can see why.

He certainly has endured a lot since May 4 - suffering brain injuries, shattered eye sockets, nose and femur, and multiple breaks to his arm. He also had to have a tracheotomy to help him breathe.

What an awful experience.

I was once involved in an accident and, looking back on it now, I was probably lucky to walk away with minor concussion. I was young - probably 24 - and driving through a rural area from one city to another in South Africa's Eastern Cape. It was late one night, but (before you ask) I had not been drinking and I was not racing. As I followed the gentle turn of the road, a small animal appeared out of nowhere. I saw it at the last moment and I did what I have now been told never to do for small animals - I swerved. The car spun off the road and, as soon as my right back tyre hit the gravel next to the tarseal, it burst. This caused the car to roll, I think it was twice, before coming to rest in a paddock next to the road. What saved me, and my passenger, was our seatbelts. We were slightly sore but none the worse for wear. The panelbeater said it was the cleanest roll he had ever seen.

I sometimes think about that accident, especially when I read about fatal car accidents. The phrase that comes to mind is: "There but for the grace of God, go I."

Richard Goodley is a brave man and the fighting spirit he has shown during this tough time is an example to us all. He has a long way to go but, going on the determination he has shown so far, I am hopeful he will have some normality back in his life at some stage.

He deserves it.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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