Crash survivor running for his life


STEVEN RAFFERTY remembers nothing about the moment he almost died.

But six years on from the car crash which nearly killed him and left him unable to walk unaided for years, he is getting ready to run the race of his life and his mind is flooded with memories of those who kept him alive.

When he jogs up to the starting line of the Dublin Marathon on Monday, he will be thinking of the fire crew which cut him from his mangled car after it ploughed into a wall near his home outside Edgeworthstown, Co Longford and the medical staff who saved his life in May 2006. Most of all, however, he will be thinking about his family, who were told that night to prepare for the worst.

“I finished work early that day and decided to go see the Irish Open, which was on in Carton House. It was very windy and the weather made the golf impossible so it was abandoned for the day and I drove home. That is the last thing I remember. I must have fallen asleep,” he said yesterday.

It was nearly two months before he woke up. Doctors did not think he would make it through his first night in hospital but he clung on. However, his prognosis remained gloomy. His parents and wife were told it would be at least two years before he would walk or talk again, if he ever did. Eventually he opened his eyes and the recovery began.

Within three months, he was released from hospital in Mullingar and transferred to the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Dún Laoghaire. “I was able to walk into the hospital. I could only get as far as the door before I needed a wheelchair but that was a real accomplishment for me.”

The distance he has to cover on Monday is longer but will be easier. “I have 26 miles ahead of me and it will be hard but I can see the finishing line now. There was no finishing line in sight for my family after the crash. They had no idea if I would ever make it. They are the real heroes.”

His wife, Dee, and his two sons, aged 9 and 12, were, he said, his “whole reason for pulling through and getting better”.

They will be cheering him as he crosses the finish line. “I still feel guilt now. I feel guilty for all I have put my family through,” he said.

Describing the marathon as “one of my greatest achievements since my accident”, he is not remotely concerned about how fast he runs and will be happy if he finishes the race before dark. He has been training since early January and over the last two months has done three half-marathons.

Like many who will run on Monday, he is doing it for a charity. “I’m collecting for ABI Ireland [Acquired Brain Injury]. “They were fast to contact my family as I recovered and, while I was lucky and did not need their services, I am still very grateful for their support.”

As of yesterday afternoon, he had raised €1,400 and he will be accepting donations up until the big race.

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