Injuries prevent rider returning home
A NIGHTMARE accident during a motorbike riding holiday has left Colac man Paul O’Dowd stranded in America.
Less than a week into what was supposed to be a memorable fortnight of riding and sightseeing with friends, the 27-year-old motocross enthusiast suffered serious injuries when he crashed a hired Honda CRF 450 at Perris Raceway, California.
O’Dowd broke his wrist and seven ribs, one of which punctured his lung causing it to fill with blood, and paramedics rushed him to Riverside County Hospital in Moreno Valley on May 2.
He spent five nights in hospital, where he had a tube inserted into his lung to drain the blood, limiting his mobility and leaving him at risk of death if he flew home at his scheduled time.
O’Dowd was due to fly home in mid-May, but doctors advised him to stay put until at least mid-July, forcing him to farewell his friends as they flew home a fortnight ago.
He spoke to The Colac Herald on Wednesday from a hired van on the road between Los Angeles and Lake Havasu on the first of a 10-day road trip with his cousin Cara O’Dowd, a former Colac resident who lives in New York.
O’Dowd, who reunited with his friends in Las Vegas after leaving hospital, saw a doctor there who initially told him he would have to stay in the US for “a couple of weeks”.
But a specialist appointment and CT scan back in Los Angeles revealed, while his lung was inflated, his broken ribs posed a life-threatening risk.
“I was here for a week after the guys left, sitting in a hotel room basically waiting around to go home, but then I copped the bad news,” O’Dowd said.
“The doctor said at any time during a flight my lung could expand and get re-punctured by the broken ribs.
“It was pretty s–t because I was already mentally ready to come home.
“When I found out I had to wait another two months, I was pretty upset about that.”
O’Dowd said the specialist told him there was a 20-per-cent chance of re-puncturing his lung if he flew home, and he admitted taking the risk had crossed his mind.
“I thought about that for one split second, but I was talking to Mum and she said it’s only two months out of my life and not to risk it,” he said.
“I kind of explored every avenue I could to get home, I tried to find cruise ships or any other way.
“But the only option was to wait it out, so I sort of had that stranded feeling.”
Injured rider making the best of bad situation
PAUL O’Dowd is trying to make the best of a bad and unique situation that resembles a Hollywood movie script.
After five nights in hospital and farewelling his friends two weeks later, O’Dowd came to terms with his situation and set about trying to resurrect his time in the US while recovering from his injuries.
He spent more than a week in Los Angeles awaiting the bad news that he would need to stay in the US until he recovered, and upon confirmation, he’d had enough of the City of Angels.
“I can’t stand the big city, being there by myself was crap,” O’Dowd said.
“I’d wake up in the morning and have to find something to do for the day and when you’re by yourself and you’ve got broken ribs there’s not much you can do,” he said.
O’Dowd contacted friends at SoCal MX, the motocross tour company which the group originally rode with, who offered him accommodation at their ranch at Temecula, California.
“I could jump straight in a car and head out to a few familiar faces,” he said.
“I’ve been going to the track and watching other guys ride so that’s been good to get back around the bikes again,” O’Dowd said.
Cara O’Dowd, Paul’s cousin who is a photographer in New York, has joined him this week for a road trip to the Grand Canyon.
His mum and sister are also planning a visit and he also hopes to fill in time and lift his spirits by catching up with other friends who are travelling and living in the US.
But most of all, O’Dowd is looking forward to getting home, and between now and then he hopes to carve happier memories of the US.
“I’ll look back and laugh one day, it may turn out that I can catch up on some of the things I missed out on and get back out to Vegas,” he said.
“It started out to be the worst holiday I ever had but hopefully it will turn into something better.
“But I’m pretty keen to get home and catch up with everyone and get everyone around to the shed for a beer.”
O’Dowd flew to the US on April 27 for what was supposed to be two weeks.
He is due home in mid-July pending a medical report.