On 13 August at around 5pm David was out for a ride on the horse he and his wife Sue shared. Splash had been a member of the Smith’s family since she was born; they bred her themselves and David broke her in before competing with her in show jumping competitions. David was out on a hack on his own and as he rode along a road next to a field with cows in, hidden from view, they moved and made noises which caused Splash to spook, rear, and then fell backwards onto David, crushing him underneath her.
Splash was fine following the fall and she got up and made her way back to Farley Green where she was kept in livery, approximately 3 miles from Cowlinge. Sue saw the state of the saddle and knew David was in trouble.
Fortunately for David a friend from their village, Tracy, was diving past the field as the accident happened, and she saw David disappear completely under Splash and she immediately called for an ambulance. We were tasked shortly after.
There was a worry I would never walk again.
Anglia Two flew to David in Cowlinge; the crew that day were Doctors Adam Chesters and Jenny Townsend and critical-care paramedic Jemma Varela, and landed in the field. The cows had moved to the other side of the field by that point.
Knowing that David had been in an accident, Sue got in her car and followed the sounds of the sirens. Sue had known the accident was serious as soon as she had seen Splash’s saddle, so the sight of the air ambulance came as a great relief.
The crew could see that David had an injury to his pelvis, so they stabilised the injury and gave him some much needed pain relief before flying him to Addenbrooke’s. Sue travelled to the hospital in a police car, so wasn’t too far behind.
Once in hospital the full extent of David’s injuries became apparent. He had shattered his pelvis, damaged his hip and broken two vertebrae in his back, T7 and T8. There was a worry that he would never walk again.
David was in intensive care for 15 days and on the 3rd day had to be put onto a ventilator and remained on it for 4 days. David was in Addenbrooke’s for 10 weeks and was then moved to Newmarket hospital, closer to home, where he spent another couple of months.
A year on from his accident and David was still immobile, but thanks to his physio and determination, almost two years on David can now walk with crutches for a short distance, and has been able to get back to driving his car.
David and Sue are very grateful to the passer by who called for the ambulance, the land crew who got to David first, the work the Air Ambulance crew did to stabilise his injuries and get him to hospital so swiftly, and the teams at the hospitals. They are very aware that without one of the links in this chain it could have been a very different story.