‘I was left paralysed after freak accident doing something I’ve done hundreds of times’

Dan Richards found himself unable to move after a terrifying accident in Langland Bay in Swansea.

A freak accident left a man paralysed from the neck down when a cold-water dip turned ugly.

Dan Richards paid a visit to Langland Bay, Swansea, on New Year’s Day for a bracing swim alongside his partner Anna Thomas, her mum Jayne Trew, and friend Sharon Nicholson. 

Dan was by no means a stranger to the sea, having spent a lot of time in the Welsh water as a keen swimmer and surfer. Diving into a wave was something he had done hundreds of times in his life, but nothing could have prepared Dan for what was about to happen.

Tragedy struck when the wave twisted his body, causing his head to slam into the ground with an incredible force, breaking his neck. This has paralysed him, and the 35-year-old was unable to move his arms and legs, only able to keep his head above water and call out to his companions for help. 

Speaking to WalesOnline from hospital, Mr Richards said: “I was probably thigh deep in the water, just wading, and a wave was coming in, so the plan was to shallow dive into the base of the wave and come up the other side as normal, but as I’ve got into the wave, it has rotated me, and the back of my head hit the sand, and with my momentum going forward and the weight of the wave, it broke my neck, it was that easy, that quick.

“With my momentum going forward and the weight of the wave, it broke my neck, it was that easy, that quick. It was instant, there was a loud noise, bright light, and then I opened my eyes underwater and could just see my arms and legs but had no control over them. It was surreal. It was kind of shock, but I was more focused on holding my breath because I couldn’t use my arms or legs, and then the next wave rolled me over.”

Mr Richards emphasised the role that his friends and family played in getting him to safety, and said: “It was just waiting until I could shout out. I probably would have been more panicked if I was on my own, but it was knowing that help wasn’t far away.” 

Read more: Sacha Dench is walking again thanks to breakthrough years after horror accident

Thanks to his party’s intervention, Dan was airlifted from the beach to receive life-saving treatment at Bristol Southmead Hospital for his injuries which included three fractures in the neck. As his condition is now stable, he will move to the Morriston Hospital in Swansea Bay where he will enter long-term care. 

Partner Anna Robertson also spoke to WalesOnline about the horrific experience and said: “It was New Year’s Eve and we were moving in together, and we took a break to go and have a little dip, as we do most weekends,” explaining that they were “very confident in the water.”

“It was around 2.30pm, and Dan, myself and my friend Sharon and my mum went down together. Dan walked in ahead of us,” she explained.

“The next thing I knew is that I saw his head coming out of the water shouting: ‘Help me, I can’t move my legs’. I realised it wasn’t a joke as the waves were taking him over to the right where the rip was, so we went over there and managed to pull him into the shoreline.”

According to Sharon, Dan waited for help on the beach for two hours as the helicopter required to move him was already attending another incident. 

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Now in hospital, Dan is trying to remain positive about the future despite receiving mixed messages from doctors. The Swansea local explained: “Some of the doctors have told me I could make a very good recovery and get my arms and legs working again, and others have said that my recovery may not be so good. It’s too early to tell, they are still waiting for swelling to go down around the spinal cord, so really it is just a waiting game and getting to the rehabilitation centre to start the physio and the healing.

“At first, I experienced paralysis from my neck down, but since the surgery, I’ve now got some movement in my shoulders and arms. As of last week, I managed to get some flickers in my thighs and toes on one foot.

“I’ve got more than what they originally said but they haven’t really told me exactly what is going to happen, because they don’t know. I’m dealing with it one day at a time.”

“I picked up a little chest infection which kept me busy for a while, and some nights I’ve had spiked temperatures, so that leads to another round of testing,” he said before adding that he’s “trying to remain positive.”

Dan added: “I’ve got a lot of positive people around me and I believe I’m going to recover from this, and everyone else does too. It’s just moving forward one day at a time.” 


    Dan’s partner and family are determined to look after him in the best possible way and deliver the best quality of life that they can, and want to ensure he can ‘continue to be the best dad to his three-year-old daughter Hailey.’

    They intend to seek help from both NHS and private rehabilitation providers and have set up a fundraiser to help cover costs. Launched barely a month ago, the fundraiser has already reached £29,000 of its £50,000 target, with the money going towards medical care and travel. 

    On the fundraiser, Mr Richards said: “It is overwhelming, and I kind of feel like I don’t deserve it. My partner and her sister-in-law and family have run the page, and to describe my gratitude for the support it has received is almost impossible.”

    His partner elaborated: “We’ve cried more about the GoFundMe page than we have about the accident, because we’re trying to be so positive every day, and then there’s people’s kind words and messages coming through, some whom you’ve never even met, and it means the world to us.”

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    Sourse: www.express.co.uk

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