'He wouldn’t have survived another night': Canterbury hunters find badly injured trail bike rider

Michael French. Photo: Supplied
Michael French. Photo: Supplied
A deer hunter has spoken of finding an injured trail bike rider who had been screaming for help for 27 hours - and would not have survived another night in the bush.

Michael French, of Rolleston, was going hunting in the Rakaia River bed area with his friends Charlie Robertson and Jay Dreaver, of the Rakaia area, on Friday when they found Robert Maddison lying near a dirt road seriously injured after falling off his motorbike.

The three 18-year-olds were in their four-wheel-drive vehicle on a track off Dobbins Rd, Southbridge, when they spotted the motorbike on the road side, lying upside down, about 7pm.

They stopped their vehicle, got out, and saw the 38-year-old Maddison lying in grass beside the road, about 2m from the bike. He had suffered suffered a back injury.

“I said: ‘Are you alright?’, he said: ‘No, I have fallen off my motorbike and I have been here for a couple of days now’,” French said.   

French said Maddison, who lived and worked on a nearby dairy farm, explained he had been lying there unable to move since he came off his bike about 3.30pm the previous day. They phoned 111.

Charlie Robertson. Photo: Supplied
Charlie Robertson. Photo: Supplied
He said the man seemed in good spirits generally, even asking for his prized motorbike to be rescued before he was. However, he could not move and had no feeling in his body.

He was also “stone cold” to the touch, wearing only jeans, gum boots, T-shirt and a polar fleece top.

With -5 deg C temperatures forecast for that night, French said he and his friends were relieved they had come across Maddison when they did.

“It was very coincidental that we drove up that track that night,” he said.

He said the man recounted having been able to hear four-wheel-drive vehicles in the river nearby throughout the day, and yelling for help, but no-one hearing him.

Jay Dreaver. Photo: Supplied
Jay Dreaver. Photo: Supplied
He had his cellphone with him, and could hear it ringing, but could not retrieve it as he could not move.

Leeston Constable Herb Inwood said the actions of the three deer hunters in saving the injured rider was commendable.

“He wouldn’t have survived another night,” Inwood said.

A resident on the neighbouring farm of Rakaia Island Dairies, Kim Morton, said the area was isolated and it was not surprising no-one heard the man yelling.

“If someone didn’t find him, no-one would have known he was down there,” she said.

St John said it was notified via a 111 call at 7.12pm, and sent two ambulances and a rapid response vehicle.

St John took the man to Christchurch Hospital in a serious condition.

Southbridge Volunteer Fire Brigade chief Shane King said the brigade responded to the scene with its four-wheel-drive utility appliance, and assisted police and ambulance at the scene.  

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