Dream trip turned to nightmare after Harley strikes roo
TEARS of sorrow sting Colin Hutchinson's eyes as he strokes the scars that have kept him from seeing his grandson grow.
He sobs, as he reflects on the most painful hospital visit he received recently when his Sydney-based family came to Rockhampton Hospital to see him.
"My 16-month-old grandson didn't recognise me and he couldn't understand why I had my collar (hospital neck brace) on," he sobbed.
Mr Hutchinson is undergoing intensive rehabilitation, including learning how to walk again, after the motorbike he was riding slammed into a kangaroo near Barcaldine in April.
Mr Hutchinson was travelling with other Harley Davidson enthusiasts from Sydney to Cairns in a 15-day motorbike ride across New South Wales and Queensland.
About two days into the ride, Mr Hutchinson's bike hit the roo.
He and his bike tumbled over an embankment.
When he stopped suddenly, he noticed a bone protruding from his leg.
He didn't know then he had shattered his ankle, chipped his vertebrae and received compound fractures to his legs.
The Royal Flying Doctor Service airlifted Mr Hutchinson to Rockhampton Hospital, where surgeons inserted titanium rods into his legs.
He has been left with physical and emotional scars.
"When you go away on a 15-day odyssey the last thing in the world you think of is hitting a kangaroo and spending 15 weeks in a hospital getting better so far away from home," he said.
"Ever since I've been here the staff - that's the doctors, nurses, everybody - has been fantastic.
"I couldn't recommend it more highly.
"Every small step I take is one that will bring me closer to going home to my family ... I can't wait to get back to them. I will never stop riding a motorbike because of this accident, but I dearly hope it doesn't happen again."
He will return to Sydney to complete his recovery in a private rehabilitation facility.