A doctor has told a Gloucestershire cyclist that his mobile phone may have helped prevent him from being paralysed when he was hit by a bus as it crashed into a house in a village on the outskirts of Cheltenham.
James Wilkinson, aged 39, was one of four people injured in the incident in Prestbury at 6.10pm on Friday evening, reports Gloucestershire Live.
He was thrown against the windscreen of the bus and narrowly avoided being crushed against the house when the vehicle hit it.
Mr Wilkinson sustained bruising to his head and right hand, lost a large amount of skin and suffered a chipped vertebra as a result of the crash.
But a doctor who treated him in hospital told him that he could have been left permanently paralysed due to a spinal injury had his mobile phone, which was in his back pocket, not taken the brunt of the impact.
He told Gloucestershire Live; “Not many cyclists get hit by a bus and survive, let alone walk again on the same night.”
Earlier that day, Mr Wilkinson, who has recently qualified as a buss driver for Stagecoach, had been on a training course with his employers.
He said: “It was about dealing with how bus drivers should look out for cyclists,” he said. “It is such an odd thing.”
A former heavy drinker and smoker, the father-of-two competed in his first Ironman event in 2012 and had hoped to represent Great Britain in November’s Middle Distance Triathlon European Championships in November, although that is now in doubt due to his injuries.
Speaking about the crash, he said: “I felt this massive whack from behind. My first thought was, ‘Who is that hitting me?’
“I smashed down on the floor. I saw the bus smash into the building.
“I saw a lady come out of the bus screaming, with her arm bleeding. I couldn’t feel my legs and there was a lot of pain in my back.
“I hit my head as I landed. Only a day or two before, I had looked in the mirror and seen my helmet strap was loose,” which led to him tightening it.
“A nice lady came over and held my hand, the one that wasn’t hurting.
“I was really scared. I thought I was paralysed. I couldn’t move at all. All my body went numb.
“I thought, ‘I am not going to play with my boys again.’ I was lying there crying.”
“I think I lost consciousness,” he continued. “I don’t remember being on the bus windscreen.
“Police told me I was lucky not to have been on the windscreen when the bus hit the house.
“The woman who did the scan at hospital told me my phone protected the lower part of my spine. She said I could have been paralysed.”
Mr Wilkinson, who was discharged from hospital later that evening and is now continuing his recovery at home, added: “I wasn’t able to walk until about midnight. I felt so lucky.”
Police are continuing to investigate the crash, which involved a bus operated by Cheltenham-based Marchants Coaches.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.