Boy, 14, back on track after horror racing crash at 58mph
- Credit: Sonya Duncan
A 14-year-old from Colchester who feared he may have lost his leg in a racing crash has got back in the driving seat less than six months on.
Racing prodigy Ollie Handley, who was one of nine young drivers from across Europe to be signed by McLaren to their DNA program, was involved in the crash back in March – just two weeks before he was due to compete in the Junior Saloon Car Championship.
Ollie was racing at Red Lodge Karting on Saturday, March 7 when his kart came off the track after avoiding another accident, hitting a tyre wall at 58mph. He was thrown up in a spiral motion and his right foot became stuck under the accelerator pedal.
“I felt it snap,” said Ollie. “It didn’t hurt as the adrenaline took over, but I have never broken a bone before so I didn’t know how bad it was. “But when they called the air ambulance I knew it was bad.”
Ollie’s dad Neil Handley, said the first thing on his son’s mind was whether he would lose his leg – and then it was the question of when he would be able to ride again, having raced since he was just eight years old.
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Steve Murrow, a paramedic from the Suffolk Accident Rescue Service (SARS), was at the course that day and administered immediate treatment while also mobilising the East Anglian Air Ambulance (EAAA), for additional support with the potentially life-threatening injury.
The Anglia Two team, based at Cambridge Airport, were just four minutes away, so pilots Martin Polding and Hal Erikson landed the helicopter at the track and Dr Abilius Wong and HEMS Paramedic David Killingback quickly got to Ollie to assess him.
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It took over an hour to safely move Ollie, during which time the EAAA team administered a very strong sedative to ease his pain. However, Ollie remained incredibly brave and calm the whole time. Once his leg had been protected and packaged up, he was flown to West Suffolk Hospital.
Xrays showed he had badly broken his femur in three places and that it was a spiral break, which is difficult to fix. He needed to have titanium rods and fixtures inserted along the bone to support it – spending more than six hours in surgery – with the surgeon saying it was one of the worst spiral breaks she had seen.
Ollie has been working every day with physio teams to get up and walking again so that he can race as soon as possible. And he has already surpassed the surgeon’s expectations.
By August he was walking well with crutches and getting close to walking unaided. He has also been keen to get back behind the wheel and just a few weeks ago, in October, he got back behind the wheel of his Citroen Saxo Saloon Car for a day’s testing.
Ollie plans to carry on racing karts alongside saloon cars in 2021 and said: “In hindsight it could have been a lot worse. But now I can pretty much do everything as normal, so I am excited to get back racing for the start of the season in April. I really appreciate all the work the air ambulance crews do and hope to be able to fundraise for them in the future to say thank you for treating me and flying me to hospital.”
Neil Handley, Ollie’s dad, added: “It’s been such a tough year for Ollie, breaking his leg and then being stuck at home throughout the lockdown, but he’s put his time to good use and really concentrated on getting walking again.
“The crash has certainly not put him off racing.”