Mountain biker grateful for mission sponsorship

By Wright Communications

"It was just one of those freak accident things. I immediately heard the cracking noise and thought I'd broken my jaw, but it was my cheek bone. I could have lost my sight or suffered permanent nerve damage because my cheekbone had basically broken away and dropped down into my jaw," he says.

The super fit Dairy Flat man had been on a fun ride with four others in Woodhill Forest on August 18 and they weren't anywhere an ambulance could easily get to. The Westpac Rescue Helicopter picked him up and took him to North Shore Hospital initially, and Mr Hunter can't thank them enough.

"They were just brilliant, I knew what was going to happen every step of the way. They were there pretty quickly and I'd found a pine cone underneath me that I was squeezing really hard to try and distract myself from the excruciating pain in my face," he says.

"They were worried about a neck or back injury and they gave me some morphine before putting me on a stretcher and walking about 200m to a fire break road where the helicopter was. I don't know what would have happened if they hadn't come."

Those are the kinds of stories that inspired premium taxi company Corporate Cabs to sponsor one of the Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter missions for the second time, in this case Mr Hunter's.

Corporate Cabs chief executive Colin Samson says the service is such a vital one for the greater Auckland area and Thames/Coromandel that it was at the top of the list for the company when it considered how it could help in the community.

"Any of us - our drivers, customers or anyone out in the community - might need the help of the Westpac Auckland Rescue Helicopter team at some point in their lives, and with demand for their services growing we want to help make sure they get it," Mr Samson says.

Helicopter trust chief executive Greg Barrow is grateful for the sponsorship.

"Our two helicopters - which have a pilot, paramedic, trauma doctor and crewman on board - do about 800 missions a year. We get 35 per cent of our operational funding from the government, but we rely heavily on our corporate sponsors such as Corporate Cabs and the general public for the service," he says.

As for Mr Hunter, he's well on the way to getting back on his mountain bike, although ironically not long before his accident he'd not long rejoined the sport. The eight-year Taupo Ironman veteran decided this year was the last one he would compete in the gruelling event, and less running had made time for more riding.


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