A Strabane teenager has said he is lucky to be alive after breaking his neck, leg and opening a wound on his head so deep his skull was visible in a freak cricket accident at the weekend.
Aaron McDermott (19), a window fitter from the Owenreagh area of the town, was playing for his team, Burndennett, on Saturday in a league match against Strabane when the accident occurred.
The skilled outfielder was running after a ball towards the boundary when he slid trying to prevent the batsman scoring a four and hit a metal bar in the viewing area at high speed.
Aaron said: “I’m really lucky to be alive. It’s funny how things can change in an instant.
“It had rained just before the match.
“The grass was a bit greasy.
“When the match was in full swing there was a ball hit and it was between me and another fielder.
“I turned to run after it to chase it down and then I went to slide to pull the ball back with my hand, but the pitch was wet and I just kept continuing on.
“There was a downward slope to the green, I began building momentum and building speed as I slid off past the grass.
“I tried to turn myself as I could see the metal pole of a bench and I really didn’t want to go head first into it. I thought that would be very bad.
“But I couldn’t slow down. I just kept going and I hit it at full speed, then whatever way I hit it I swung around and hit my leg off it as well.
“I remember hitting the pole. I remember rolling around and trying to get back up, but everyone was telling me to sit down and that the ambulance was on the way.
“People were running over and shouting at others to get towels and water.
“I just tried to remain calm as I knew that if I panicked everyone else around me would too
“I didn’t really know how bad it was.
“When the ambulance came the paramedic did say that the cut on my head was pretty bad.”
Aaron was rushed to Altnagelvin Hospital where it was discovered he had broken his neck, his leg and had a huge gash on his head which required staples.
“The cut on my head was so deep that the medics were able to look into my skull bone and see if it was fractured. I was transferred from Altnagelvin Hospital to the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast on Saturday night as they thought I might need spinal surgery.
“I was looking at getting a pin in my leg and a pin in my neck and also a cage around my neck.
“But when we got there the surgeon looked over the X-rays and said that he thought we would get away without operating.
“He said that once I was able to stand for 20 minutes they would take me and get a mould for my neck that I can wear during the day. I wear a different one at night.
“He said with me being so young and my bones being healthy that he thought it would work.
“Thankfully I was allowed home on Tuesday. I will have to wear a neck brace for four months.
“It will be a long road to recovery but I’m going to just take it one day at a time.”
Despite Aaron’s severe injuries he said he is expected to make a full recovery. He added that he can’t wait to get back onto the cricket pitch.
“I am very lucky to be alive today,” he said. “It could have been a completely different scenario. I could have been killed.
“The first few days after it happened it didn’t really scare me, but reality has sunk in now and I realise that with a click of the fingers it could have been very different.
“It’ll be a long time before I’m ready to play cricket again, but I will be back out on the field again. I have played cricket all my life, I love it. The doctor didn’t advise me on a time-scale on when I can go back to the sport.
“Cricket is something that is very close to my heart. At the minute I’m just trying to stay as positive and take as many positives out of it as I can to keep myself going.”
by leona o’neill