Life changed when car collided with driver’s motorbike on County Durham road
MARK McCourt’s life was turned upside down in an instant when a car stopped at a junction while he was driving his motorbike along a country lane in County Durham in April last year.
The former marine engineer was driving moments behind fiancee Maria Kajda near Middleton-in-Teesdale, and had just seconds to react when the car emerged in his path.
Although he tried to get around the car, it hit him, throwing him off his bike, over the hood of the vehicle, causing him to skid along the road.
As he lay conscious face down on the road trying to figure out what had happened, to his horror the car continued in his direction and rolled onto his stomach, crushing his pelvic area, the force flipping him onto his back.
The 39-year-old, from South Shields, said: ‘I was driving and could see a white car at a junction ahead of me.
“I had the right of way, but suddenly saw that he was starting to walk away.
“All I thought was, ‘Please don’t hit me.’
“I had about 15 meters to react.
“The front of the car hit the bike, I hit the hood and I kept going down the road.
“I felt the hard knock on my left side and was awake, as the car’s left front and rear wheels rolled over my pelvis.
“I don’t think the driver realized he had run over me and thought I was where my motorbike was.
“I was screaming in pain and tried to get up but couldn’t move.”
Mr McCourt was airlifted to the Major Trauma Center at James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough, where specialist medical staff operated on him.
His pelvis, left leg, knee and ribs were broken, his vertebrate was fractured, and internal organs including his urethra were damaged.
The urethra is the tube that allows urine to exit the body.
Mr McCourt underwent several operations, including emergency surgery two days after his stay in hospital, when his chest and neck swelled, causing him difficulty breathing.
This was caused by surgical emphysema following the trauma.
He was temporarily paralyzed by the incident and only left hospital after nearly four weeks, once he was able to sit up out of bed.
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When he got home, he had to stay in a medical bed in his living room and use a wheelchair to go to the toilet.
His fiancée, a teacher, was given two months leave to look after him, and during the summer they also installed a makeshift shower in the garden with a pop-up tent and battery-powered shower.
He said: “I’m so lucky to have support around me.
“My fiancée was amazing because I couldn’t get out of bed on my own.
“She had to help me go to the toilet and wash myself. If I had been single, I would have had to live with my parents and ask my mother to do this, which is something you don’t expect when you’re in your thirties.
“When things are taken away from you, you appreciate the little things like a shower and cleaning your own teeth.
“I remember feeling water running down my face for the first time and it felt like a big deal.”
It took him 12 weeks to be able to put weight on his feet and walk for the first time, which was frustrating for someone who had been very fit and active.
Now, a year later, he has had seven operations and is receiving specialist treatment in London for his damaged bladder and urethra.
He is undergoing physiotherapy for his pelvic area and walks with a limp due to weakness in his left leg.
Mr McCourt said: ‘It’s been a long journey and I’m still not at the end of it. Infections and setbacks depress you.
“When people look at me now, compared to a year ago, they’re amazed at the progress I’ve made.
“But, although the scars and bruises have disappeared and I am walking again, my life is still not the same.
“I still have trouble going to the toilet. I am awaiting reconstruction work on my bladder and urethra and I have nerve damage in my pelvic area.
“People also don’t see the psychological impact that something like this has. I still have night terrors about it and have suffered from PTSD, for which I sought help.
The former marine engineer, who has spent most of his life working on tankers, was about to start his ‘dream job’ as an ROV pilot, piloting a submersible craft, two days after the ‘accident.
Due to his injuries and risk of haemorrhage, he was told he could no longer work at sea as the remote locations in which he would operate would not have the necessary medical equipment or emergency access if the worst had to happen.
The driver of the car involved in the crash pleaded guilty to causing injury by driving without care or attention at Peterlee Magistrates Court on September 10, 2021.
He was fined £100, plus an additional £100 in costs and court costs, while he received five penalty points on his licence.
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