In a room full of people two men exchange stories of near death experiences.
One from the Coromandel Coast and the other from Kaukapakapa, the pair were united in celebration due to the life-saving actions of the Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter at the Rescue Reunion in Mechanics Bay today.With months having passed since the freak accidents that changed their lives, the two men now laugh at their shared misfortunes, but graphic images of wounds and the evidence of scars left behind hint to the horrors they both suffered.
John Riley, a speed enthusiast from northwest Auckland can vividly remember the eyes of the deer who jumped in front on his quad bike in Woodhill Forest on May 7, 2016.
The 52-year-old was teaching his son-in-law to ride when a rogue deer leapt from the trees and caused his motorbike to flip twice with him on it.
"The second time it came down and hit me on the chest and head and then rolled off to the side," Riley said.
"It was lights out for a few seconds then I came to and was in the most pain I could probably ever have in my lifetime."
Riley recalls feeling a sense of safeness when the emergency services or "angels in red suits" came to his aid.
"I was taken to North Shore Hospital and found out I had broken seven ribs, my clavicle and scapular, punctured a lung and smashed my jaw."
Riley spent two weeks in hospital while doctors drained his lungs and set his broken bones. He then spent another 4-5 weeks in recovery.
While his son-in-law decided motorbike riding wasn't for him, Riley was back on the bike within six months and competing in the Desert Storm Motorcycle Trail Ride.
"I was the only quad to do the 90km loop, in the worst conditions Desert Storm has ever had, and you wouldn't believe it, 1km back from the bike park, I flipped the bike and it landed on me again."
Riley said the ordeal, along with losing an eye to melanoma seven months earlier, has taught him to appreciate laughter and people.
Jonathan Andersen, 33, has tried to maintain an equally positive attitude after a workplace accident left him an amputee.
Andersen was working as a timber worker in Thames when he suffered critical injuries after putting his hand through an industrial planer.
"I had to deal with a jam in the machine and unfortunately while I was cleaning the jam from the safety zone, I ended up having my hand amputated," he said.
"The first thing that went through my mind was 'bugger that doesn't grow back'. It just happened so fast."
Andersen said it was the quick actions of his staff who created a human tourniquet and the fast response from emergency services that saved his life.
Andersen's rescue crew said he remained positive and empathetic the entire journey.
Pilot Paul Robinson said, "What really impressed me was the whole time we were flying him from Thames he was sitting in the back just about in tears but all he was worrying about was his wife."
Andersen said, "I was mainly concerned about my partner because she was 3-4 months pregnant. I was more concerned about her than myself."
Andersen underwent a 12.5-hour surgery and spent four weeks in hospital while surgeons reconstructed his hand.
"Every day is a challenge now, especially after being right-handed for 33 years," he said.
"I am still not allowed back at work because I have a lot of nerve damage in my arm and psychological problems with machinery at this stage.
"Even if I hear a skill saw or anything like that I just want to throw up."
Andersen is set to become the fourth New Zealander to have a bionic hand.