Perth dad paralyzed by Freak Wave three days after Christmas

“He said, ‘My neck, my neck,'” Byrne said.

“But I really didn’t think it was that serious. I figured he must have pinched a nerve or something and that he was going to be fine.

Lifeguards came to Race’s aid, placing him on a spine board while they waited for an ambulance – and then the helicopter – to take him to the hospital.

“It felt like waiting for hours,” Byrne said.

“They told me not to rush because it would take a while to get him to the hospital and for an x-ray, so I went home, showered and told the kids that dad was injured and that we had to go to the hospital to see him.”

Scott is father to Jackson (20), Stephanie (19), Tayla (16), Caleb (16), Addisyn (14) and Jessica (13).

Aside from Jackson, who was at work, they were about to get in the car to drive from their home in Baldivis to the hospital when the phone rang.

Scott Race in intensive care at Royal Perth Hospital.

Scott Race in intensive care at Royal Perth Hospital.Credit:Pete Byrne

“It was someone on the spine team and he said, ‘That’s going to slow you down a bit; he broke his neck in two places,’” Byrne recalled.

“What worried them the most was the severe dislocation of the disc that was pressing on the spinal cord, so they had to operate on him immediately. He was in the OR for four hours and they said they would call us if he wasn’t there.

“I was hysterical and hyperventilating.”

An MRI the next day revealed that Race’s spinal cord was not torn but badly injured.

Doctors had hoped he would regain some feeling and movement in his body in the days following the accident, but by the seventh day he was still completely paralyzed.

They broke the news to Scott that he would probably never walk again.

“Scott is holding back a lot to protect us,” Bryne said of her partner’s reaction to the news.

Peta Byrne and son Jackson Race, 20, are awaiting news on the recovery of partner and father Scott Race, who broke his neck in two places on December 28.

Peta Byrne and son Jackson Race, 20, are awaiting news on the recovery of partner and father Scott Race, who broke his neck in two places on December 28.Credit:Rebecca Peppiatt

“But our whole life changed in a split second.

“You can’t predict what’s going to happen, but it’s not looking too good. They said his injury was catastrophic and they don’t see him run anymore.”

The couple have been together for 11 years and 2023 should be the year they built the house of their dreams and celebrated their 40th birthday within months.

Scott planned to go cage diving with great white sharks in Adelaide.

Instead, Byrne plans ahead by asking the builder of her home to begin conversions to accommodate someone in a wheelchair.

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In a terrible twist of fate, she also works as a disability caregiver for quadriplegics.

“It’s going to be a very long road to recovery,” she said.

“They’ve already got him a room at Fiona Stanley Rehabilitation Center and he could stay there for 18 months.”

A week after her life changes forever, Byrne tries to spend as much time with Race as she navigates the rest of her life.

“I didn’t even think about work,” she said.

“I can’t be there for him and work here at the same time.

“My head was spinning and I thought, how am I supposed to do all this? Because you only have certain times when you can visit me and then I have to take care of the children at home and then I have to take care of the work.”

Friends and family have set up a GoFundMe page (‘Scott and Peta’s recovery journey’) for the couple, which has raised more than $16,000 so far.

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https://www.smh.com.au/national/western-australia/beach-tragedy-perth-dad-paralysed-by-freak-wave-three-days-after-christmas-20230103-p5ca32.html?ref=rss&utm_medium=rss&utm_source=rss_national Perth dad paralyzed by Freak Wave three days after Christmas

Callan Tansill

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