Racing: Injured driver out of a coma

By Michael Guerin

Injured driver Frank Cooney was placed in an induced coma to aid his recovery following a serious harness racing crash at Alexandra Park. Photo / Thinkstock
Injured driver Frank Cooney was placed in an induced coma to aid his recovery following a serious harness racing crash at Alexandra Park. Photo / Thinkstock

Top harness racing driver Frank Cooney is out of a coma following a crash at Auckland's Alexandra Park on Friday in which he was critically injured.

Cooney, 62, of Kumeu, was tipped from his sulky and hit by another horse while driving Awesome Desire in the opening race of an Auckland Trotting Club meeting.

The park's stipendiary steward John Muirhead said an investigation into the crash was almost completed but he still needed to speak to Cooney.

"We're sure we know pretty much everything that happened though," he said.

Cooney's wife Ann said her husband had spoken to her and he had no memory of the crash.

Cooney suffered no broken bones in the accident and was able to talk and move at the hospital before doctors put him in an induced coma.

Mrs Cooney said it was a good sign that he was able to walk and talk after the incident.

She said the compulsory safety vests the jockey's had to wear probably saved him from worse injuries.

"If it wasn't for Frank's vest we are sure he would have a lot worse internal damage.

"We have had so many calls and offers of help it has been amazing but for now we are just waiting," Mrs Cooney said.

The last serious accident at Alexandra Park was in March 2008 when Cambridge driver Tony Shaw was hit on the head by his sulky after it flipped when his horse fell at full speed.

He required brain surgery and Shaw, a New Zealand Cup-winning driver, has not driven since, although he has made a full recovery.

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