Preston cyclist's miracle escape after crash on notorious Lake District mountain pass

A Preston cyclist has spoken of how she cheated death on one of Britain’s most notorious mountain roads after her brakes failed and she crashed into a rock.

Saturday, 7th December 2019, 11:45 am
Vivienne being treated by air ambulance medics. Credit: Holly Taylor, Great North Air Ambulance Service

Vivienne Sherry, suffered cuts and skin loss all over her body and had to be rescued by air ambulance crews, with her tale to be featured on Sunday's episode of Emergency Helicopter Medics, on More4.

The 36-year-old was taking part in The Fred Whitton Cycling Challenge on Sunday, May 12 - a gruelling 114-mile route across the Lake District - when the drama unfolded 100 miles in on Hardknott Pass.

Vivienne said: “I remember it being so steep that I actually had to get off my bike and walk for some of it.”

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Vivienne's injuries. Credit: Holly Taylor, Great North Air Ambulance Service

But Vivienne, who was taking part in preparation for an Ironman competition later in the year, began to quickly pick up speed as she descended and found herself screaming for people in front to get out of her way as she realised something was amiss.

She said: “I pressed my brakes, and nothing happened. I just wasn’t slowing down. I didn’t make the corner and ended up hitting a rock and coming off my bike, landing in a gulley.

“I was lying on the ground just looking up at the sky and I could hear my friend screaming. She told me not to move while she ran for help.”

It was not long until the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) was on scene.

Vivienne suffered severe cuts and skin loss in the accident. Credit: Holly Taylor, Great North Air Ambulance Service

Vivienne said: “I can remember the air ambulance coming for me – they were with me very quickly and they were great.”

GNAAS airlifted her to James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough where she discovered that although the cuts and grazing to her body were extensive, she had miraculously sustained no serious underlying injuries.

She said: “The worst thing was that I had took so much skin off all over my body. My arms are still a bit of a mess from the accident, but you can’t have everything, and I feel really lucky.”

After leaving hospital, Vivienne went to stay with her mum and sister for a month as she couldn’t manage to do anything for herself.

Vivienne before the crash. Credit: Holly Taylor, Great North Air Ambulance Service

She said: “I couldn’t even get dressed. Four weeks later I managed to go back home once my bandages were off.

“When I had to get my bandages changed and cleaned it was just awful and so painful.”

Just three weeks after her accident, Vivienne was back on her bike although she could only manage a mile due to the pain.

She said: “I was in tears, but I tried my best to get back on. It’s been a mental struggle as I worry that I might fall back off and wonder if it will happen again. It makes me nervous but hopefully it will settle down soon.”

Vivienne Sherry. Credit: Holly Taylor, Great North Air Ambulance Service

Mike Davison, the doctor who treated Vivienne on scene, said: “We are fairly frequent visitors to Hardknott Pass, sadly, and not everyone is as lucky as Vivienne.

“It’s remarkable that she didn’t turn out to be more seriously injured. I’m just pleased we could be there for her, and even more pleased to hear she is getting back on her bike to raise money for GNAAS.”

Emergency Helicopter Medics is on More4 at 9pm on Sunday. It is then available All 4, Channel 4’s on demand service.