Personal Injury

NZ truck accident survivor hopes to earn toughest-trucker title

New Zealand resident and 43-year-old father of four Colin Tandy was behind the wheel of a logging truck driving a mountainous route in Marlborough, New Zealand. Just after 6:30 a.m. Mr. Tandy rounded a corner and was instantly blinded by the rising sun. The next thing he remembers was his careening off the side of an 80-foot cliff, fully conscious and gripped with fear as the truck tumbled over and over again toward the sea below.

Worried that he would drown once he hit the water, Mr. Tandy removed his seatbelt. Fortunately, the 16-ton truck stopped short of plunging into the Pacific Ocean and, fueled by adrenaline, the battered commercial truck driver managed to crawl out of the cab and clung to a tree stump. Intense pain started to set in and Mr. Tandy focused on a leaf overhead, wondering what might happen next.

The trucker’s colleagues had been driving behind him when his truck rolled off the fittingly named Tumbledown Bay Road – a winding road carved into the crest of a mountain. Mr. Tandy’s spirits lifted when he heard his fellow truck drivers talking about the accident on his truck radio and he redoubled his efforts to stay conscious until help arrived.

Mr. Tandy was eventually airlifted to a hospital, where doctors set about repairing his eight broken ribs, fractured hips, and split pelvis. He also tore all the muscles in his lower back, had a number of dislocated vertebrae that left him paralyzed from the waist down, and a received a gash on his face that required 40 stitches. Doctors who treated Mr. Tandy told him he was unlikely to walk again.

Such a grim diagnosis made it all the more astonishing to everyone, including Mr. Tandy, when he slowly started regaining feeling in his legs. After just five weeks of hospital rehabilitation, Mr. Tandy made a complete recovery.

Mr. Tandy, a British expatriate, told the U.K.’s Daily Mail that during the accident his whole life flashed before him as it does in the movies. “I don’t consider myself special in any way but it takes something like this to give you a new outlook on life,” he told the Daily Mail.

Now part of that new outlook involves a chance to represent Britain in The World’s Toughest Trucker, a television series that “will see truckers taking on some of the world’s hardest routes in a competition of skill, pace and mental strength,” according to the Daily Mail.

Mr. Tandy has reached the second heat of the new series’ challenge and hopes that surviving and recovering from such a harrowing and devastating accident will give him a valuable edge over his competitor truckers, who hail from several different nations and drive some of the most dangerous routes on the planet.