'Ridiculously lucky': Cyclist reveals how a rogue pothole almost paralysed him

Josh Dutton
News Reporter

A young cyclist has revealed how a horrific accident nearly left him paralysed after he hit a pothole travelling at about 60km/h.

Harry Kooros, 21, was riding along Centennial Road, Bowral, in the NSW Southern Highlands in 2015 with about 14 other cyclists in a training group when he hit a pothole in the road.

“I don’t know exactly what happened, or how I fell, but I was travelling at about 60km/h,” the talented young cyclist told Yahoo7.

“From what I heard I went forward over the handlebars and landed on the left side of my head.”

Harry Kooros said he was ‘ridiculously lucky’ not to end up paralysed after hitting a pothole in Bowral and fracturing three vertebrae. Source: Supplied/ Harry Kooros

Mr Kooros, who was 17 at the time, “was out cold” and placed in an induced coma for about two days.

His friends were traumatised as he lay on the ground covered in blood.

“Apparently I was thrashing around a lot and making noises of all sorts,” he said. 

The young cyclist, who was predicted to have a big future in the sport, fractured the T6, T7 and T8 vertebrae in his neck. He also lost three centimetres of height.

“Doctors said it was ridiculously lucky I wasn’t paralysed because of how deep the shards from T7 went into the spinal cord,” the cyclist said. 

“It was an insane experience because I didn’t remember a single second of any of it, and then was just being told about what had all happened and I didn’t believe it for ages but eventually I didn’t really have a choice.”

Mr Kooros will have to live with a curved spine. Source: Supplied/ Harry Kooros

Mr Kooros added the recovery was difficult for him and his family due to his end of school exams.  

“My mum, dad and sister were really changed from it,” he said. 

“I think they had a lot of PTSD from the accident and were always scared when I would start riding or talk about riding.” 

Cycling still a big part of his life

Mr Kooros never had to undergo surgery. Instead, he was given a back brace to wear for three months. He said his young age and high fitness level was a factor doctors considered. 

Pictures show Mr Kooros continuing to train on a cycle during this period.

Mr Kooros said he lost about three centimetres in height. Source: Supplied/ Harry Kooros

“It took forever and I just never committed enough to the physio side of things until at least a year later when out of school,” he said.

“The first few months were pretty painful and I was sleeping easily between 15-18 hours a day and still being tired.”

The Bowral resident said he still has scarring from the “road rash” and kyphosis – a curved spine. 

“For now, it’s totally manageable pain wise,” he said.

He added that while his racing days are all but over, he still cycles for fun.

Mr Kooros training with his back-brace on and (right) recovering in hospital. Source: Supplied/ Harry Kooros

“I don’t race anymore and I feel like I’ve never been able to quite get within reach of my former fitness – whether that’s due to lack of motivation or other reasons, I’m not sure,” he said. 

“I’ve definitely lost a bit of my gung-ho attitude when riding and am a little bit timider now. 

“Now I just want to be riding for fun and fitness not to race and try be at a high level.”

Cycling still remains a big part of his life though – he’s a bicycle mechanic and an ambassador for charity ride Bowral Classic, which will take place on Sunday.

In 2016, riders in the Bowral Classic raised more than $250,000 for charities across Australia including the National Breast Cancer Foundation.