Severely injured rider reunited with air ambulance ‘heroes’ who saved her life

  • A rider who shattered her pelvis has returned to thank the air ambulance “heroes” who saved her life.

    Gina Exley was hacking out on her homebred mare, Sapphires Magic, in December 2015 when the accident happened.

    The pair were 10 minutes from home when the mare is believed to have slipped.

    Gina has no memory of the accident nor the 15-minute 999 call she made on her mobile phone.

    The Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) took Gina to James Cook University Hospital and she underwent major surgery to pin her pelvis.

    great north air ambulance

    The first thing she remembers is being in hospital after the operation and seeing her family.

    The mare was not seriously injured.

    “When I came back from hospital I was in a wheelchair and I went into the barn to see her,” Gina told H&H.

    She put her head over my shoulder and pulled me to her as if to say ‘you’re here’.

    “I could almost see the relief on her face.”

    She added that she has been told a man was walking his dog nearby when she had the accident and went over to help, but the mare would not let him near Gina.

    “I bred her out of my favourite mare and she is very special,” said Gina, who has competed the 16.3hh mare by Yorkies Midnight Corner up to British Eventing novice level.

    “People say they are just animals, but there is definitely more to them than that.”

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    Gina has two screws holding the back of her hips together, which crossover at the base of her spine.

    After several months in a wheelchair, she was able to walk again and was back in the saddle by July 2016.

    “I assume that my horse slipped and she landed on me, but I’ll never know for sure what happened that day,” she said.

    “I wish I could remember being in the helicopter as I would have loved seeing the views.”

    Last month, she visited GNAAS’ Durham Tees Valley base to meet and thank the crew who saved her life.

    “It was very emotional,” she said. “It was so nice to be able to say ‘thank you’.

    “They are a bunch of unsung heroes — they are a charity and they need proper support as they save lives.

    “Being able to see the guys who saved my life was incredible.

    “They just came across as ordinary people, but the work they do is so amazing.”

    GNAAS aircrew doctor Phil Godfrey said: “I remember clearly what happened that day — Gina had suffered a serious pelvic injury, so we took her to hospital as fast as we could.

    “It’s good to see her back on her feet and learn that she’s riding horses again.”

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