King’s Lynn speedway rider set for ‘long, long’ road to recovery after awaking from sedated state

Darryl Ritchings lays injured on the track after crashing in heat two. Picture: Dave Evans (Swindon Advertiser) Darryl Ritchings lays injured on the track after crashing in heat two. Picture: Dave Evans (Swindon Advertiser)

Friday, April 18, 2014
8:23 AM

Teenage speedway rider Darryl Ritchings’ recovery from a horror head injury is back on the right track after he finally woke from a sedated state.

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Darryl Ritchings. Picture: Dave Evans. (Swindon Advertiser)Darryl Ritchings. Picture: Dave Evans. (Swindon Advertiser)

The 19-year-old has been in an induced coma for nearly a fortnight since an accident in Swindon which left him with swelling on the brain, a broken nose and a broken ankle.

Two attempts to wake him had failed to leave his heartbroken family and friends fearing the worst but better news arrived on Wednesday when the father-of-one came round for the first time since April 3.

Mr Ritchings, of Purton, Wiltshire – who made his debut for the King’s Lynn Young Stars just 24 hours before the accident during his hometown club’s Elite League meeting against Coventry Bees – will now begin the long and slow road to recovery.

Young Stars team boss Dale Allitt said: “With any head injury like Darryl sustained there can be complications. I’ve spoken to his mother who says it’s going to be a long, long road for him to get back to where he was before the crash.

Darryl Ritchings (right) flies through the air after crashing in heat two. Picture: Dave Evans (Swindon Advertiser)Darryl Ritchings (right) flies through the air after crashing in heat two. Picture: Dave Evans (Swindon Advertiser)

“But now that road can start and this is the first stage of his recovery. It’s a boost that he’s awake. Everyone has pulled together to support him which is one of the best things about the people that are involved in speedway.”

The popular youngster, seriously hurt on what was his competitive home debut for the Robins, is suffering from a chest infection following his ordeal. The long-lasting effects of the damage sustained from the blow to his head as a result of the high-speed crash is not yet known.

Mr Ritchings was placed into a sedated state to protect the swelling on his brain and taken to Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital for specialist treatment the morning after he careered into a fence while riding the motorbike – which has no brakes.

Swindon promoter Alun Rossiter said: “I’ve been in contact with the family and the good news is that Darryl knew his daughter Poppy, and was also aware of things like his mother’s birthday.

“Apparently the disorientation is normal for a youngster who has been through what he has, and it’s now a case of taking things slowly day by day.”

Messages of goodwill have continued to flood in for the racer since the incident while bucket collections have been held at Swindon and Lynn meetings. Speedway fan Lee Kilby is today biking 100 miles to raise money for the injured ace who is expected to remain in hospital for “the foreseeable future”.

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