Bega crash survivor shares confronting story with student drivers

John Perry talks about his car accident to students at the RYDA Program.
John Perry talks about his car accident to students at the RYDA Program.

ONE of the sessions at the recent RYDA Program involved personal stories from road crash survivors.

John Perry has been presenting his story to students in the program for the last seven years.

“We are doing this to try and save your lives – so take it serious, and take it in,” Mr Perry said to his audience.

Several years ago Mr Perry was in the front passenger seat of a van driven by his boss at the time coming back from Narooma.

The weather was bad, and as they crossed the Corunna River Bridge a man crashed into them with his car.

The man had been going 130kmh, and the stopping impact was 210kmh.

Mr Perry broke his back in six places, broke his neck and was conscious while he waited to be airlifted to hospital.

“You can’t imagine what it is like to feel like you are going to die,” he said.

“I can’t forget how painful it was.”

After two years in hospital he was told he would never walk again, and spent four years in a wheelchair.

He realised no-one would help him walk, so locked himself in his shed with support beams and forced himself to.

He took his first step 18 months later.

The students were silent, listening wide eyed and barely moving.

Photos of his horrific crash were played on a slideshow behind him, showing cars that had become twisted lumps of metal.

The only question raised at the end asked about the fate of the speeder, and Mr Perry said while he had been taken to court he got off free.

Mr Perry said there was a “pretty good response” from the students.

“I hope we can try and help keep some of them safe,” he said.

“If they think about doing something stupid, they might think about this day – and that could save their life.

“I do this to make people realise that it hurts, and it will affect your life and everyone’s around you.

“My son nearly lost a father.”

The accident continues to affect him today, taking a strain on his marriage.

“I live it every day,” he said.

Mr Perry said he doesn’t mind reliving his accident by doing the presentation if it helps prevent more accidents on the road.

Mr Perry praised Rotary and the volunteers who put on the RYDA program.

“They do a great job,” he said.

He thought there were less fatal crashes in the Bega Valley due to this program.



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