John’s spirit remains unbroken

John Innes is not a man to give in easily. And the way he has tackled his setbacks head-on greatly impressed welfare officers FredJackson and Ken Vessey, from the Northern Sydney committee, when they visited John at St Vincent’s Hospital in Sydney.

John is slowly recovering from serious injuries sustained when his electronic motor scooter’s brakes failed while he was going down a steep hill in Bondi.

He made a split-second decision to crash into the back of a parked vehicle (also taking out a metal street sign), rather than going  out of control into a busy roundabout at the bottom the hill and potentially being hit by cars. It was a decision that may have saved his life.

John, 55, suffered a broken arm and leg, cuts to his forehead, injured jaw and his electronic  motor scooter was destroyed.

But he is used to being beset with hurdles and had long shown admirable courage and determination to overcome them.

Born in Waverley and an Eastern Suburbs man all his life, he played junior league as a robust front-rower and earned selection in the Roosters’ Jersey Flegg side in 1975, President’s Cup team in 1977 and was graded in the under-23s the same season.

However, when captaining Bondi United’s C grade side team and charging the ball up, his head hit an opponent’s hip and his whole body turned to jelly.

He was rushed to the Royal North Shore Hospital where he was diagnosed with fractures to the  C5-C6 vertebrae and classified a quadriplegic. Doctors did not anticipate John’s courage and determination and after a few years of rehabilitation he was able to walk short distances using crutches and acquired some movement in his arms. The original diagnosis was revised to an “incomplete quadriplegic” (some movement).

By 1985 John had learnt to drive a car using special hand controls for braking and accelerating, obtained his taxi license and drove his own taxi for 20 years.

In 2006 fate dealt John another cruel blow when he was driving his electronic motor scooter and was involved in an accident with a truck, resulting in serious injuries that led to him again being diagnosed as a full quadriplegic. Since then John has qualified carer’s visit him dail to prepare him for the day and for bed of an evening.

Men of League were deeply moved by John’s story and his incredibly positive attitude during his long road to recovery.

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