A FATHER of three faces an uncertain future after suffering a spinal cord injury playing with his children at the Nowra City Church last week.
Shane Clifton of Narellan, who grew up in the Shoalhaven was playing with his children aged 10, 13 and 15 on the church’s skate ramp when he was injured.
Local accountant Kurt Clifton said his brother rode a bike over a jump into a foam pit, just as hundreds of others had done before.
As he was about to land Mr Clifton tried to dive forward off the bike into the pieces of soft foam.
“He was just playing silly buggers with his kids,” Kurt said.
“My brother just went into it off his bike, and tried to dive into it off his bike, but somehow he landed badly on his head or neck.”
However Mr Clifton, who turns 40 tomorrow, immediately knew something was wrong, according to his brother.
Unable to move or feel anything in his arms or legs, “he knew straight away that he’d broken his neck.”
Paramedics were on the scene within minutes and called in a helicopter to airlift Mr Clifton, a keen surfer and Bible college professor, to the spinal unit at Prince of Wales Hospital.
Medical staff have seen a video of the incident and “They can’t believe something so serious happened,” according to Kurt.
“Everyone can’t believe that from what he did, he hurt himself in that way.”
Mr Clifton’s children were “pretty upset”, according to Kurt, while the rest of the family was “in a state of shock”.
Kurt said he had not seen the video of the incident, nor did he want to.
He said it was a case of “wait and see” to discover the extent of the damage, and determine whether his brother would make a recovery or suffer some form of paralysis following the break at the fifth vertebrae.
Head of Nowra City Church, Pastor Peter Pilt, said members of his congregation were “certainly believing and praying that he’ll make a full recovery.”
He said the church had in place “rigorous safety procedures” that had been used to assess the foam pit before it was used.
While the pit was fairly new, “we have used it extensively,” Pastor Pilt said.
“This was just an absolute lousy accident,” he said of the incident that injured his friend Mr Clifton.
Pastor Pilt said there were a number of activities including skateboarding, skiing and riding motorbikes that carried risk, and while every effort was taken to assess and manage risks, unfortunately accidents sometimes happened.