Outram cyclist 'should be dead'

Outram cyclist John Nicholl with the remains of his bicycle and helmet yesterday after he was hit...
Outram cyclist John Nicholl with the remains of his bicycle and helmet yesterday after he was hit by a car travelling at almost 100kmh on State Highway 1 on Saturday. Photo by Craig Baxter.
What is the first thing that goes through a cyclist's head when he is hit from behind by a car travelling at nearly 100kmh?

Outram cyclist John Nicholl says usually it would be his bum - the same as for a bumble bee.

The 45-year-old was quite jovial yesterday, despite nearly being killed on Saturday, and was using humour as a means of coming to terms with his extraordinary survival.

During one of his more serious moments, he said the first thing he actually thought after being hit by the car was: ''I should be dead''.

''Anyone who saw it thought I would have died in hospital.

''I know people have been killed along that road in the past.''

The car that struck Mr Nicholl. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
The car that struck Mr Nicholl. Photo by Peter McIntosh.
The Taieri College year 7 teacher, part-time Roxburgh Baptist Church pastor, cyclist and runner said he had just cycled off Henley Rd and on to State Highway 1 about 1pm on Saturday, when he was struck by a Toyota Corolla travelling close to 100kmh.

''It was one of those split second things. I was in a high gear and I wanted to cross the road, but I couldn't get across quickly enough.

''So I went on the centre line, hoping the car would go around me. But it didn't.

''I heard the horn toot and I heard the brakes squeal, and I thought 'Whoops, here we go'.

''I thought it would be all over - especially at that speed.

''The car rammed up the back of me and I remember flying through the air.

''I heard a big thud, I don't know what I hit. I woke up and thought it was a bad dream.''

He was taken to Dunedin Hospital, and incredibly, escaped with just a broken collar bone, concussion and multiple cuts and abrasions.

Rather than go out and buy a Lotto ticket, Mr Nicholl said he was happy just to stay home with family and recover.

Luck had nothing to do with his survival, he said.

''We have a faith in God, so we don't believe it was luck.

''I think God's hand was on my life. My time wasn't up. I still have things to do in my life - God has me here for a reason.''

Mr Nicholl's wife, Vanessa, said it could have been the worst weekend of her life.

''We're just so relieved he's OK. I've got four children - I could easily have been a widow.

''I shudder to think. It's everyone's worst nightmare.''

Mr Nicholl said the incident was a reminder it was important to make the most of every second of life because ''you're only one second away from life or death''.

Mr Nicholl hoped the driver of the car which struck him was all right, and apologised for putting him through the ordeal.

The driver was uninjured but the car's windscreen was broken.

Mr Nicholl hoped to be back at school by Wednesday but conceded he would have to take it one day at a time.

Police inquiries into the incident are continuing.

-john.lewis@odt.co.nz

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