A mother has expressed her horror after her five-year-old son had a bike accident that left him in a coma for nine days.
Nikki Barnes, 28, from Sowerby Bridge, West Yorkshire, is urging parents to require their children to wear cycle helmets after her son Marli suffered two skull fractures and a broken shoulder.
He had been playing just yards from his home when he jumped on a friend’s “rust bucket” bike and rode down a steep hill on Sept. 3.
But he crashed into a four-foot garden wall before being thrown headfirst into the side of a house because the bike had no brakes.
Nikki, a full-time mother, said she was terrified when she found her unconscious son being resuscitated by neighbors minutes later before a rescue helicopter arrived at the scene.
Hospital doctors later told her and Marli’s father, Dean Collinson, 32, to “prepare for the worst” – as they feared he might not wake up from his induced coma.
Luckily, Marli regained consciousness nine days later and Nikki said she still couldn’t believe he was now at home on the road to a full recovery.
She said: “I’m even sitting there looking at him now and thinking, ‘I can’t believe you’re still here’.”
“I’ll stand and cry, and he’ll say, ‘Mom, why are you crying?’ It’s just a feeling you can’t explain when you think your five-year-old is going to die.
“As a parent, you never think something like this will happen to your child. You think my child will be fine until you experience something like this in life.”
“The helmets may not look cool like kids think, but if Marli had worn a helmet he might have only gotten away with a broken shoulder.”
According to the Department for Transport, around 85 cyclists died on British roads in 2022.
Compared to 100 in 2019, the number was down 15 percent as roads generally became safer for cyclists over time.
However, crash deaths peaked in 2020, when about 141 cyclists died, including 15 aged five to seven.
From 2012 to 2021, around 45,620 cyclists were seriously injured.
There is no requirement to wear cycle helmets in the UK, however the Highway Code recommends that they should be worn.
“I couldn’t believe what I saw”
On the day of the accident, Nikki said she instructed Marli to stay near his house while she prepared his dinner.
But he had decided to walk to the end of his street, which is on a very steep hill, and ride his friend’s bike at high speed to the end.
Nikki said: “Not even five minutes into that conversation with Marli, two men were walking down the garden path and I thought, ‘Oh God, what has he done now?’
“They just told me that my son was unconscious and had passed out in someone’s garden. I literally just ran. I didn’t even wait to know where he was.”
“When I got there there was an elderly couple there and an 80-year-old man was lying on the floor while Marli was giving him CPR.
“I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. It was so surreal. The bike was far too big for Marli. It had no brakes. It was basically a rust bucket.”
She added: “The couple said Marli hit their house so hard they thought something had fallen over upstairs.”
Nikki said five minutes later three ambulances arrived, paramedics cut off Marli’s clothes and gave him oxygen as he suffered a series of seizures.
A rescue helicopter later took him to Leeds General Infirmary where he was diagnosed with base and frontal fractures of the skull and a broken shoulder.
Doctors later broke the serious news to Nikki that he might not survive his horrific ordeal.
Nikki said: “They then told me about the injuries Marli had sustained and said, ‘The best thing you can do is prepare because we can’t tell you the outcome.’
“He’s on a breathing machine and we don’t know if he’ll ever be able to breathe on his own again.”
“He has recovered”
Nikki said she remained at Marli’s bedside for the next eight days, barely eating or sleeping as he was given powerful sedatives, including fentanyl.
And when Marli finally woke up on her ninth day in the intensive care unit, she said everyone around her was moved to tears as he called her name.
Nikki said: “The first thing Marli said when he came to was that he screamed ‘Mama’ three times. We all just cried. It was just so surreal that he actually spoke.”
“We were only at the hospital two days after he woke up. He literally recovered. He was able to walk after he woke up.”
Nikki said Marli is now at home on the mend, and in addition to encouraging the kids to wear helmets, she said they shouldn’t swap bikes either.
She added: “I was told that he might have been able to stop at the bottom of the hill if Marli had been on his own bike, a bike that Marli knew and that was suitable for his size and worked.”
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“Kids don’t know that things shouldn’t be shared with friends.”
Since then, Nikki has been collecting money for Marli GoFundMe hoping that she can take him to Disneyland after he fully recovers.