Biker Dick Allaker says he is lucky to be alive after his motorbike burst into flames in a high-speed crash.
Dick suffered near fatal injuries when his motorbike collided with a car at Thinford, near Spennymoor.
The car and motorbike both burst into flames following the crash on the A167, and both drivers had to be dragged from the wreckage by emergency services.
Dick, 55, was airlifted to James Cook University Hospital, Middlesbrough, for emergency life-saving treatment and was put in an induced coma for three weeks.
He also suffered two broken legs, a fractured pelvis, back and ribs and internal damage.
“I woke up in hospital with my right arm in a cast, one leg in a splint, one paralysed, I couldn’t move my back,” he said.
“The consultant said how lucky I was to be here.”
Dick, of High Pittington, was released from hospital four months after the crash on Christmas Eve.
And during his recovery, he has been in and out of hospital for numerous operations.
“The number of operations I have had is in double figures,” he said.
“I have a permanent colostomy and there is a two-inch difference in the length of my leg, so I have a two-inch platform. I have never been a good dancer anyway.”
Despite his horrific injuries, Dick has remained positive and had the support of his now wife, Kathryn, 46.
The couple got engaged just weeks after the crash when they decided life was too short.
“She has been absolutely amazing and put up with all the hospital visits,” he said.
“There have been times when I have went into hospital thinking it would be for a couple of days and ended up staying for eight or 12 weeks because of infections. She has cried, I have cried.”
Three years on after the crash, Dick is looking to the future having launched his new business D&K Welding Services, which is based in Quarrington Hill.
He has invested in welding equipment and is hoping to work with companies who have smaller or one-off orders, which larger companies wouldn’t take on.
Dick, who previously worked as a snagger on construction sites and at power stations, said: “I have never been unemployed in my life but after the crash, it was impossible for me to go back to the job I was doing as physically, I’m not able to work like I used to.
“But after I was discharged from hospital and began the long road to recovery, I knew I wanted to work, actually that I needed to for my own peace of mind.”
To start the business, Dick has invested his savings in the unit and has bought machinery and equipment.
“I am completely realistic about what I’d like to get from this – I know if I effectively manage the pain, I can work up to six hours a day,” he said.
“The next steps for me now are to undertake some training and then spread the word I’m here and no job is too small for me.”
Dick moved into the unit earlier this year and the equipment he’s invested in means he can work with both stainless steel and aluminium.
He added: “I know I shouldn’t be here. The accident was so serious I could have lost my life, but I didn’t and I’m here.
“I don’t want to sit around and feel sorry for myself or for other people to feel sorry for me. I want to work and hopefully this business enables me to do that.”
A Euclid police officer who allegedly pulled out his gun during an off-duty bar fight back in August has been fired, with the mayor saying she “no longer [has] confidence that you can perform successfully as a member of the Euclid Police Department.”
On Aug. 24, 32-year-old Officer Todd Gauntner and two members of the “Hells Angels” organization were involved in an altercation on the patio of Frank and Tony’s Place on Second Street in Willoughby. Gauntner was apparently one of the aggressors, and investigators say he brandished his weapon and pointed it at the two men before a physical fight occurred that had to be broken up by bar patrons.
Gauntner was arrested and charged with using a weapon while intoxicated, and his case remains open in Willoughby Municipal Court. He was also suspended from his job for 15 days with pay while the department’s internal affairs division investigated the incident.
According to a letter sent to Gauntner by Mayor Kristen Holzheimer Gail, Police Chief Scott Meyer recommended to her back on Sept. 11 that Gauntner be terminated from the force. A hearing was held two days later to consider all explanations regarding the altercation, but in the end it was agreed that Gauntner should be let go.
Mayor Gail, in the letter, chastised Gauntner for inviting trouble by making “disparaging comments” to the bikers and for not removing himself from the situation, adding he nearly lost his gun in the disturbance and “put yourself and many bar patrols at a significant risk of substantial harm due to your reckless behavior.
“Your actions have brought discredit to you as a member of the Euclid Police Department,” she wrote.
Gauntner’s termination took effect Sept. 17.