DODGING DEATH: Teen survives 6m fall on birthday bike
SOMETIMES it only takes a split-second for things to go very wrong - and it can happen when you least expect it.
That's the lesson learnt by a South Gladstone family on Saturday morning after teenager Colin Jensen survived a six-metre fall off a sheer drop while riding a dirt bike.
The bike was Colin's 14th birthday present, and he had it up and running for less than 15 minutes before he found himself in the hands of paramedics.
His father Nigel Jensen, a motorbike rider himself, had been planning the surprise present since Colin recently started expressing an interest in riding.
He and his partner Michelle went to Gladstone Motorcycles for help choosing the right dirt bike, and to make sure Colin was fitted out with all the right safety gear.
But after they revealed the surprise on Saturday morning, they couldn't resist turning the engine on in the back yard to warm it up.
As Colin sat on top of it and slowly turned it around to face the house, that's when the brand new wheels gripped in to the ground and sent him over the edge of a steep embankment beside their house.
"I remember yelling out 'Dad!', and that's the last thing - then I was on the ground and the ambos were looking down at me," Colin told The Observer yesterday.
He was taken to Gladstone Hospital in a neck brace after complaining of spinal tenderness, but was cleared of major injuries later that day after a CT scan and X-Rays.
"Someone must have been watching over me... when we went to get the bike later I looked up and saw how far the fall was," Colin said.
"I don't know how I came out with just a few scratches."
Nigel said he felt a lot of responsibility for what happened in the accident, and wanted to warn other parents about the dangers of letting their guard down for even a split-second.
"It only takes a split-second - if anything at all had gone differently, it could have been a tragedy," he said.
"I tell people there's nothing wrong with bike riding, but they can be dangerous with inexperience.
"So I take a lot of responsibility (for what happened), because we were standing here and Colin had all the safety gear sitting there, but we let him get on the bike without a helmet.
"That is something that won't be happening again."
Nigel said the safety gear might not have prevented the accident, but it could have given his son a lot more protection had things gone a little differently.
"The day started perfectly - for it to end the way it did is not something we ever want to go through again," he said.
Nigel said he wanted to thank his neighbour at the house below, who was second on the scene, as well as the paramedics and police who turned up to help.
"They were here within minutes of it happening," he said.
"They just did an awesome job, and the staff at Gladstone Base were unreal.
"The paramedics that drove him to hospital too, I could tell they took extra precautions on the road because of the injuries they were suspecting."
After he arrived back at home later in the day, Nigel said Colin's chief concern seemed to be the damage done to the bike in the fall.
Its front wheel was severely damaged and its brake line was leaking after the incident, along with cosmetic damage having occurred to the plastic at both ends.
"It's a typical biker thing to ask 'How's my bike?'" Nigel said, with a hint of pride.
"Unfortunately I had to tell him it may be a little while before we get to repairing it."
Colin confirmed the incident had not put him off riding at all.
"I've had the stack so I'm keen to jump back on and have a proper go," he said.