Graphic: casey in hospital

Casey is lucky to be alive

Date published

09 Mar 2015

Casey Cherry remembers the moment he was thrown off his motorbike while riding up a dried creek bed on a station property outside of Broken Hill.

He broke his neck in four places, leaving him paralysed from the chest down. Sprawled in the sand under a blazing Outback sky, he waited for help.

"I was knocked unconscious for a couple of minutes. When I came to I was lying face down and I had this weird tingly sensation all through my body.

"I had my hands out in front of me and I couldn't move them. I couldn't move anything.

P1_Casey and his sister, Lauren. _Use large

Pictured: Casey and his sister Lauren after his accident

Casey had been helping out on a friend's property, Cymbric Vale. Until then, the 20-year old surf shop manager from Pakenham in Victoria had been a passionate amateur sportsman.

He had played country league football, basketball and cricket. He used to surf, body board and snowboard, and was a keen motorcyclist.

"I loved all my sport," Casey says.

At the time of the accident he was riding with Mick Anderson, whose family owns the property.

The pair was planning to meet up with Casey's father, Ian, working on a fence several kilometres away.

After Casey was thrown from his bike, Mick rode on to raise the alarm.

When Ian and Mick returned within half an hour, they found Casey immobilised but conscious, and unprotected from the increasing heat.

Ian recalls: "Case knew he'd broken his neck but there was not a mark on him … just a bit of mud in his hair."

P4_Casey and his dad, Ian, at Broken Hill.

Pictured: Casey and his Dad Ian at Broken Hill.

RFDS pilot Cameron Gibbs, Dr Pim de Lijster and flight nurse Sue Hines departed Broken Hill a short time later.

They were forced to land on an airstrip on adjoining Willandra station, because the one at Cymbric Vale wasn't long enough.

Travelling on the back of a Landcruiser ute, they reached Casey about 1.30pm.

Casey's dad, Ian, recalls: "I just took a step back when the doctor arrived.

I had my hands out in front of me and I couldn't move them. I couldn't move anything.

"I could feel the weight was taken off my shoulders. Then I started thinking 'now I've got to tell his mother and his sister'."

Ian's wife, Janice, and daughter Lauren, were at home in Victoria, unaware of the accident.

But it was his son's courage in the face of such dire circumstances that still moves Ian.

"Casey was making jokes with Pim and all I could think was that it was a pleasure to be his dad. It was an honour to be his dad. He's got such a brilliant attitude."