QUEANBEYAN motorbike rider Ben Richards has vowed to return to the sport that almost killed him just one month shy of his 17th birthday after he survived a horrifying speedway crash earlier this month.
The 16-year-old suffered multiple injuries including bleeding on his brain after a two-bike collision during competition at Bega Speedway a fortnight ago.
While the crash initially appeared innocuous, CT scans at Bega Hospital revealed Ben had incurred a significant head injury and he was immediately airlifted to Canberra Hospital.
Bleeding on the brain is a potentially life threatening condition. Thankfully the first-year apprentice has since largely recovered from the accident save for occasional headaches, a broken wrist and a broken finger.
But Ben said there was no doubt he had been lucky to escape relatively unscathed.
“I’m really lucky just to still be here,” he said. “When you get bleeding on the brain, especially where it was on my brain stem…lucky is an understatement.”
“It’s something I try not to really think about but I have thought about what might have happened.”
Ben’s last memory of the meeting is of winning the previous race by “the length of the track”, before regaining consciousness in Bega Hospital.
The crash was witnessed by Ben’s parents Wayne and Therese, who were trackside when the incident occurred.
“He was riding really well up to that stage, it was one of the best days he’s raced,” Therese said. “He just happened to get caught on that corner.
“When we realised he wasn’t getting back up [after the crash] we were a little bit concerned but everything was still precautionary.
“Once we got to Bega Hospital and they did the CT scan everything changed very quickly and it obviously got a lot more serious at that stage.”
Both Ben and his parents credit the teenager’s new heavy duty crash helmet for helping save his life. The helmet, which had been ordered six weeks prior, had arrived just two days before the race meeting and was being worn by the aspiring rider for the first time.
Ben must now undergo further scans in five to six weeks to determine that there is no longer any bleeding on the brain and will have to receive a doctor’s clearance to race again.
But he insists he remains undeterred by the crash and remains focused on his goal of competing in November’s Australian Titles in Tamworth.
“I was always keen to get back into it, even from the moment I fell off,” he said. “I’ll probably ease into it, I won’t be straight out as fast as what I was but I’ll get back up there.”
“I’ll be at the Australian Championships for sure.”
Ben started speedway racing in 2010 alongside younger brothers Abrum and Bailey.