Derry man Richard Quigley, who had to undergo emergency brain surgery after being seriously injured in a hit and run in Bangkok last month, says he’s “absolutely over the moon to be back in Derry.”
Richard arrived back in the city on Thursday, accompanied by his brother Stephen, who had spent the past month by his bedside in Bangkok.
Speaking from his family home in Ederowen Park last night, former Da Vinci’s worker Richie (27) said doctors expect him to make a full recovery within the next six to twelve months.
He said he had been overwhelmed by the support and generosity of the Derry public who had donated thousands of pounds to cover his medical bills in Thailand.“ I am so, so grateful to everyone who donated money and supported us throughout it all,” the Galliagh man told the Sunday Journal.
“When people told me what people back home had done to raise money I just couldn’t believe that people had done this for me. I’ll be eternally grateful. There were people who I might have only spoken to once or twice who had donated money and organised events and I think that’s just amazing generosity, I just feel so lucky that I got the treatment I did, and so much of that would not have been possible at all without the money that was raised at home.”
Richard, who had been living and working in Bangkok, also revealed how his accident happened while he was trying to help two tourists.
“There were two Canadian tourists who didn’t know the city at all and they weren’t sure of the language or the quickest way to get to their hotel so I said I would help out and take the taxi with them. Because I knew where I was going and knew the language I knew I could communicate better with the driver. So I saw them to their hotel, and then I got out of the taxi to flag down a motorcycle taxi for myself to get back to work, and that’s when I was hit. Witnesses said I was thrown about ten feet into the air.”
When the driver of the taxi which hit him fled the scene Richie made his way to hospital and after being examined by a neuro surgeon after bleeding from his ear, was sent straight into surgery.
“I remember very little after that, to be honest,” he said. “I was in and out of consciousness for a few weeks. It was only before the doctor gave me the okay to travel home that I told him I had a bit of a pain in my neck that I was told surgeons had to operate through the back of my neck to remove the blood clot in my brain. I was unaware of a lot of the emergency treatment that I’d needed and I just feel lucky that I’ve come through it.”
Richard described the events of the past week, when he was released from hospital and made the huge journey back to Derry, as “totally overwhelming.”
“To be honest, I was a bit insecure about flying back. For those few weeks, all I’d been able to do was lie in bed and then I was worrying about going through the flight and maybe getting sick on the plane. I can walk short distances but I was wary of standing in queues at airports too. But in the end, I got here. The airlines were great, and I was able to sit in a wheelchair instead of standing in the queue and the feeling of landing into Belfast was something I’ll never forget, not to mention that drive back to Derry. I just feel so relieved and so lucky to be back and I feel I need to thank everybody who made that possible from the bottom of my heart. I hope I get a chance to do help someone else in the future, the way people have helped me.”
Richard’s brother Stephen, who spent the days and weeks after the accident helping him in Thailand and has overseen much of the fundraising which took place here at home said:
“The accident was awful, but really, everything since then has made us think how lucky we are and how great a place Derry is where people rally around to help one another in such difficult times.”
Stephen paid particular tribute to Linda Friel, the mother of Derry man Patrick Friel Curran who had died after a short illness in America recently.
“That was really special, that someone would reach out like that while they had their own tragedy to deal with,” he said.
“As well as that, we want to thank Da Vinci’s, those who arranged a charity football match and those who made donations quietly without any real recognition. We will be eternally grateful to all of them because we were able to get the best possible care for Richie.”