Dad left in coma after being hit by lorry in Freetown Way speaks of his staggering recovery

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If you are travelling between Beverley and Hull at rush hour, there is a good chance you have passed a man who has overcome the toughest of obstacles to continue his passion.

On a bicycle, travelling to and from work nearly every day for the last 25 years, Chris Peach has achieved things greater than most of us could only dream of.

The 51-year-old is a self-proclaimed fitness fanatic. He has run eight marathons and has completed one of the most gruelling triathlons in the UK.

Inspiration can be taken from these achievements in their own right, but it is nothing compared to what he has had to go through since a horrific incident on November 22, 2017.

On his bike heading home from work, Chris was struck by a HGV lorry in Freetown Way, Hull, on the night of November 22, 2017.

Chris' daughters Naomi, 19, and Mary, 17, at his bedside
Chris’ daughters Naomi, 19, and Mary, 17, at his bedside

He suffered a long list of horrific injuries with broken bones across his upper body as well as a collapsed lung and kidney failure, spending the next six weeks in a coma in Hull Royal Infirmary.

Chris said: “I sustained quite a few injuries. I had facial bone damage including a broken jaw and cheekbone, so I have got a metal plate pinning them together.

“I had injuries to my lower and upper spine and have a thin pinned metal in my neck and lower back.

The scene of the accident in Freetown Way

“I broke most of my ribs, my right shoulder blade and my right elbow which I have got a pin in.

“Complications followed and I think I had a lung collapse so I had to have a breathing tube and one of my kidneys failed so I had to have dialysis as well.

“I was in the intensive care unit for about six weeks and I can’t remember any of it.”

Chris woke up from the coma in early January 2018, but there was a long road to recovery ahead.

He spent a further two weeks in Hull Royal Infirmary before being transferred to Castle Hill where he underwent intensive physio.

“It was an unexpected visit,” said Chris. “I was in hospital for about four months.

The accident in Freetown Way

“When you have got no choice you just have to deal with it and all the staff make life easier in those difficult situations – I can’t praise the NHS enough.”

Testament to Chris’ determination, it was not only important to him to recover from his injuries but to also be able to continue his passion for fitness.

The accident had put a major obstacle in his way but it wasn’t going to stop him from doing something he loved.

Police at the accident in Freetown Way

He said: “They knew all about my passion for fitness and knew I wanted to get back into it.

“One of the things I was pleased about was that there was not much damage to my legs so I could still cycle and run, so there was a way back into that.

“I asked the doctors if I could run and cycle again and they said there was no reason I couldn’t. As long as I took it steady.”

‘In one second I aged 20 years’

After being released from hospital Chris started to get his legs going again, by walking each day and increasing the distance when he could.

“I started off by doing about 300 to 400 hundred metres and would add a bit whenever I could. It took about six to eight weeks for me to get into a run.

“The metal in my lower back means I have not got much flexibility so I can’t run as fast as I could. There is a sensation and sometimes it is painful so I’m always aware of my lower back.

Chris Peach completed the Lakesman Triathlon in 13 hours, three minutes and 31 seconds.
Chris Peach completed the Lakesman Triathlon before his accident

“In one second I aged about 20 years. Most of the time it is like I have run a marathon.

“I can’t run or walk comfortably but that does not mean you should not do it. It is discomfort it is not pain.

“The accident is not going to stop me from doing what I want to do I just have to do it a bit slower and more steady.”

Chris says he has “always” been a fitness fanatic.

Speaking about his achievements before the accident, he said: “I would cycle to and from work and then I thought I would take up a bit of running. Add swimming and then I could do triathlons.

“I did my first 10k in 2005 and then thought maybe I could do marathons and started off by doing half marathons and ten mile runs. I have done eight marathons in total.”

Chris has run 26.2 miles in Manchester, York and Hull but one of his greatest accomplishments came in the Lake District.

On June 18, 2017, Chris competed in the Lakesman Triathlon, a gruelling endurance race which includes a 2.4 mile swim, followed by a 112 mile cycle, and finished off with a marathon.

He smashed his target of 14 hours by finishing the race in 13 hours, three minutes and 31 seconds.

Now, though, Chris knows he will have to take his return to sport at a much slower pace, and set himself a goal that he would get himself back into running events by 2019. And, on New Year’s Day, he was one of hundreds who took part in the annual Beverley fun run, setting a time of one hour and eight minutes in the 10k.

He is hoping to go one step further by competing in the Ferriby 10-mile race at the end of January.

It has been a struggle to get this far but Chris says that it is not all down to him, but also those around him.

“I want to point out the help and support I got through this time,” he says.

“The support I received from my family, the Beverley Baptist Church, Beverley Running Club, Barracuda Triathlon Club and all the staff at the hospital.

“They are why I have done as well as I have to get to this stage. It is not personal it is a collective effort.”

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