Queenstown mountainbiker in freak fall

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Queenstown is rallying round for one of its most popular mountain bikers, injured in a freak 30-metre fall. 

James Clark, 32, fell down the face of a rock outcrop near Meadow Hut in the Pisa Range, while on a night walk at 1.30am on January 25. 

He’d been camping with nine friends, celebrating an upcoming wedding, when he lost his footing and fell. 

Clark, originally from Wellington, was given first aid by friends, including mouth-to-mouth, before being airlifted to
Dunedin Hospital. 

He spent four days in the intensive care unit with a punctured lung, punctured liver, two broken ribs and two chipped vertebrae. 

He was moved to the respiratory ward last Wednesday. 

Partner Libby Woodard, 26, says: “He’ll make a full recovery.”
 
“We’re very fortunate he had some good people around him - one guy was a firefighter. 

“That definitely helped to save him. And we’re thankful to the Otago [Regional] Rescue helicopter, which had
a very quick response.”

Clark, who’s been in town just over four years, is a valued member of the Queenstown Mountain Bike Club –
serving on the committee and helping build trails. 

A fundraising effort has raised almost $7000 in a week, with more than 40 donations. 

Woodard says any money raised will be used to support him and his family as he recovers. 

He’s expected to spend a month in hospital and about a year getting back to full fitness. 

His parents are in Dunedin with him. 

Dad Edgar says: “He’s now free of tubes and wires but has bruising over much of his back and legs. 

“He will hopefully go to rehab soon. 

“He’s coping well with concussion from his brain rattling around as he fell, some de-oxygenation before he had his mates pump some air into him on-site, as well as being on some pretty heavy pain medication. 

“He is having normal conversation but tires easily.”

Clark and the group spent the day before the accident river surfing and jet boating before camping above Pisa Range Snow Farm. 

They climbed a rocky outcrop near the hut before Clark, a manager at Queenstown firm Sign It Signs, slipped on some tussock and fell.

He hit a ledge halfway down before landing on another ledge. Alcohol wasn’t a factor. 

To donate visit: www.givealittle.co.nz/cause/supportingjamesclark

paul.taylor@scene.co.nz