Queensland cyclist Mark Ellard was struck by a vehicle on the Bruxner Highway on May 19, 2018.
Queensland cyclist Mark Ellard was struck by a vehicle on the Bruxner Highway on May 19, 2018. Contributed

'F--k I'm dead': Cyclist's terror when drunk driver hits him

A CYCLIST has spoken of his terror after a drunk driver crashed into him on the Bruxner Highway, leaving him with significant injuries and fearing for his life. 

Mark Ellard and his riding group left Lismore for Tenterfield on May 19, 2018.

The "lovely" ride turned to disaster about 6km east of Drake, when he and another rider were struck by drunk driver Richard David Dunwell, and thrown from their bikes.

Earlier this week, Dunwell, 35, was sentenced to four years and six months in prison for two counts of aggravated dangerous driving occasioning grievous bodily harm over the incident.

The Casino resident had tested positive for driving under the influence of alcohol, recording a blood alcohol concentration reading of 0.243.

Mr Ellard, of Brisbane, recalled those moments after he was hit by Dunwell's vehicle where he thought he was dead.

"It'd had been a lovely ride when I found myself on the ground and a lot of blood around me and (I could hear) a blood curdling scream near me," he said.

"The first thing I knew was I was in the air, and then I distinctly recall screaming 'f--k, I'm dead' and then seeing the guy driving off.

"I was screaming profanities for him to come back."

While Dunwell did return to the scene, Mr Ellard said as he lay "in a pool of blood" on the side of the road it felt like it was "three hours" before the ambulance arrived.

"My concern was the amount of blood coming out of me, all I could do was follow (the ambulance officer's) instruction," Mr Ellard said.

"They couldn't get blood pressure out of either of us.

"I'd had a bag of plasma at the scene and two bags of blood as I was put into the helicopter."

Both cyclists were flown to Gold Coast University Hospital for emergency surgery.

Mr Ellard had a broken femur while the other cyclist injured had a compound leg fracture as a result of the incident.

More than a year on from the crash, Mr Ellard is still struggling to return to life as he knew it before being struck by the vehicle.

From ongoing medical procedures and rehabilitation to the stress of returning to work, Mr Ellard said the strain on his family has been immeasurable.

"It's been hard on them, especially that first 24 hours when the outcome was unknown initially," he said.

"We've all had to deal with difficulties we probably shouldn't have.

"My daughter's driving test was delayed because I couldn't walk and it was hard to teach her to drive.

"Our neighbour had to mow our lawn, it's been little annoyances like that."

But Mr Ellard said he knows his story is one that many riders fear because "this sort of thing happens too often".

"There's a lot of drivers who become frustrated with bike riders," he said.

"They've got to understand if a bike rider moves because of broken of glass or debris that margin of error dramatically declines.

"That 18 seconds you might get held up could mean you don't end up in jail for 18 months.

"We are humans, we're fathers and mothers and all those sorts of thing.

"We have families who we want to go home to."

While Mr Ellard said he's got a long way to go to fully recover, he has gotten back on his bike and is riding again.

"Physically and mentally I'm not as strong as I was and I'm no longer competing on the bike, I ride less frequently," he said.

Mr Ellard added he hoped "Dunwell comes out of jail a better person".

Dunwell will be eligible for parole on September 29, 2021.



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