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Crash survivor now wears seatbelt

By Emily Norman
[email protected]

No one knows the importance of wearing a seatbelt more than death defying 24-year-old crash survivor Riccardo Giacon.

Last year, he was flung through the windscreen of a friend’s ute as it rolled at high speed in coastal South Wairarapa near Ngawi, sustaining injuries from which he was not expected to recover.

His rescue featured in Monday night’s TV1 episode of the Life flight series.

On January 5, last year Mr Giacon, of Kapiti, was on a pig hunting trip with two of his mates.

“I wasn’t driving, I was in the passenger seat and we had just come out of a station that we were hunting near.

“We were just going into Ngawi to get a feed,” Mr Giacon said.

He was not wearing a seatbelt.

“The driver drifted off the road and then overcorrected and rolled,” he said.

“I don’t remember anything.”

After being thrown from the rolled vehicle, Mr Giacon sustained a traumatic head injury, a punctured lung and other injuries that left him barely clinging to life.

The bleeding in his brain had compromised his ability to breathe and by the time Life Flight arrived, his body was already shutting down.

Ngawi Rural Fire Party volunteers had been the first emergency team on the scene and a doctor on holiday at the settlement had given first response care to the people in the vehicle.

Life Flight had arrived at the crash scene with a Wellington Free Ambulance paramedic on board within 25 minutes of launching from Wellington, and Mr Giacon was airlifted to Wellington Hospital as a “status 1” patient in critical condition.

Throughout the 15-minute journey to the emergency department, Mr Giacon’s condition continued to decline and his heart rate had rocketed up to 141bpm.

When the chopper landed, he was rushed into surgery where his skull was cut open to relieve pressure from the internal bleeding.

His brain injury was significant and as a result of the crash, he lost full sight in his right eye.

His first memories after the crash were a week or so later in hospital.

Now a qualified builder, Mr Giacon knows without Life Flight and a bit of luck on his side, he would have died- “it just makes you feel lucky,” he said.

Prior to the crash, he had received multiple traffic fines for failing to wear a seatbelt.

“I go nowhere without a seatbelt on these days.”

Mr Giacon said his recovery was unbelievably quick, and he was back at work six months after the crash.

And it’s not the first time, Life Flight had saved his life.

When Riccardo was about two years old he got his hands on his grandparents pills and had to get his stomach pumped in hospital.

“I must have thought they were lollies or something.”

Mr Giacon now donates to Life Flight.

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