The elite cyclist who was left fighting for his life after colliding with a car yesterday is back into surgery today.
Alexander Ray was taken to Auckland City Hospital in a critical condition. The incident occurred on the intersection of Morningside Drive and New North Road.
Last night he had surgery to assess the swelling on his brain. He didn't deteriorate overnight which was a good sign, lifelong friend and fellow high-performance cyclist Roman van Uden said.
Today, doctors were going to try and fix Ray's jaw which had dislocated at the skull and fractured at the chin. This would improve his airway for future operations and help with facial reconstruction.
Ray also has severe fractures around his right eye socket. Doctors were hopeful there would be no damage to his vision.
The 27-year-old will be kept in a coma for at least a week so his brain can rest and repair, Uden said. Visitors have been told to avoid touching him to avoid stimulation.
"Every cyclist's worst nightmare is hitting an object like a car, a big chunk of metal ... One moment of inattention has the potential to ruin a guy's life and the sport he loves.
"It looks like he took most of the impact to his face and shoulder."
Mum Tracey Ray was confident her son would wake up - but they didn't know what state his brain would be in.
"We have no idea what sort of injury to his brain may have occurred. Everything else is fixable and not life changing our only real concern is what's happening in his brain.
"It might be weeks [before we find out]. I've had no experience dealing with anyone in brain injuries and everyone's different
Tracey is somewhat "inured" or accustomed to seeing her son battle the odds. Only 18 months ago Ray had been in the intensive care unit battling the life threatening disease Leptospirosis. The condition made his liver and kidneys begin to shut down, his skin turned yellow and proteins and muscles in his legs were being eaten by bacteria.
"He has good colour," Tracey told the Herald about Ray's current condition.
"His right eye is totally closed and black. He is on a ventilator with a collapsed lung. And he has a chest drain in and gastric tube in ... His eyes are taped closed and he's in cooling blankets to help with the brain swelling.
"He'll get back together. It really is just his brain injury. No one has any idea of what that will be."
Tracey said they were doing their best to keep busy and within earshot of their phones.
Van Uden believed Ray was travelling downhill along New North Rd quite fast - up to 60km/h. One way cyclists are commonly hit is when a car turns left in front of them when they are going straight ahead.
"I think everybody who rides a bike knows the experience of a close call with a car, Van Uden told the Herald.
"It really gets on your nerves. You can expect the worse when you do have an impact."
Van Uden urged drivers to be conscious and respectful. He knew it could be frustrating when cyclists took up the whole lane. But this was sometimes done "defensively" to ensure vehicles don't try to pass at a dangerous point.
"Motorists might get upset but at the end of the day if a driver hits a bike they are going to be better off physically. It's only the cyclists who wears the physical impact.
"It's just such a small mistake but it can have such a big impact."
Police are appealing for witnesses to the crash. Anyone with any information is asked contact Constable Colin Nuttall on 09 481 0773.
A cycling advocate has called the incident "an indicator of a huge need".
Bike Auckland chair Barb Cuthbert wasn't surprised to hear about Ray's accident. Intersections were some of the most dangerous areas for cyclists, she said.
"This man is in a huge, regrettable situation. We were desperately upset to hear of the accident but he's an indicator of a huge need in Auckland.
"Auckland now has a horrendous death and serious injury rate way beyond the rest of the country. Our infrastructure simply isn't fit for purpose. It's about time the roads were made safer."
Waitemata Local Board chair Pippa Coom recently wrote about Auckland's increasing road safety crisis after three pedestrians were killed in a week.
Cuthbert explained that intersections were some of the most dangerous areas for cyclists and had the greatest need for road design. The intersection where Ray crashed had no cycling infrastructure. She said people naturally looked out for threats, so people in cars looked out for other cars, not cyclists.
"It's so common to hear 'I looked but I didn't see them'."
Auckland's cycleways were used more last month than ever before with 50,000 more trips taken.
A record-breaking 430,000 rides were recorded in March 2018, up 13.5 per cent on the previous year, according to data collected by Auckland Transport.
Cuthbert believed Auckland's biking population was burgeoning and cyclists and pedestrians needed the most support.
She said school children in particular needed infrastructure to get across the city, it shouldn't all just be concentrated on the CBD.
"People who are walking and biking are really doing everyone else on the road a favour. They're not causing traffic pollution or congestion making ourselves healthier so there's less toll on the hospitals.
"We have got a burgeoning population of people who own bikes and want to ride, let's give them safe routes … It just ticks every box."