COMING home early was never on Peter and Tania Butterfields’ minds when skiing the Austrian Alps, but after Peter had a bad crash and sustained a serious injury it quickly became the only option for the pair.
Heading to the Alps for just under a month, the pair was ready to spend their time skiing the Alps of Bad Hofgastein, but everything took a turn when Peter had a bad crash.
Peter, an experienced skier, had been skiing a variety of runs ranging in difficulty rating from black to blue throughout the day.
“I took the last lift up for the day to the top of the mountain ready for my last run,” he said.
“After skiing a couple of black runs throughout the day I decided to take it easy on my last run and head down a red run that would take me around the outside of the mountain, with the idea of meeting Tania at the bottom” Peter said.
Earlier, Peter had been having trouble with his transitional goggles, which would go too dark when going from the bright, snowy areas to the shadowed areas of the mountain.
As he skied down the run, there was a corner with the perfect amount of shade and rough snow to combine for Peter to lose control of his skis and crash.
“As I came around the corner and into the shade, my goggles just wouldn’t transition for the darker area, so everything went dark and I couldn’t see,” he said.
Fortunately Peter missed any trees, posts or ice that may have been in his way but he still can’t piece together just how he crashed.
He came down hard and fast – Peter’s description was that his “backside just went straight over the back of his head.”
“Once I stopped sliding I realised I was in a fair bit of strife,” he said.
“There was a fair bit of blood pouring down my leg and out onto the snow, the ski had cut through my snow pants, and thermals.”
Without anything on him to stop the bleeding, Peter packed the outside of the cut with snow to halt the bleeding until help could reach him.
A few skiers went straight past him before a pair from Manchester England stopped to lend him a hand.
“I was pretty relieved when they stopped to help,” he said.
“Luckily they were able to help me get up and walk to the side of the run out of the road of everyone else.”
Once I was up walking, I knew I hadn’t broken any bones so they stayed with me until we worked out a plan to get me down,” Peter said.
Luckily there was one last ski class coming down the mountain, so the people who found Peter waved down the instructor, who then alerted the ski patrol to come and bandage the wound and get him off the mountain.
After being loaded into an ambulance, Peter was still losing a fair amount of blood and with both ambulance drivers speaking German, language was a barrier.
It was finally at the hospital after x-rays were taken when Tania was finally able to speak to Peter.
“We had a quick chat and I told Tania that I was fine and about to head into surgery, so there really wasn’t much more she could do,” he said.
With Tania deciding to stay at the hotel, he went under the knife to have the cut closed up.
“Because I’d lost about three litres of blood, they couldn’t give me a general anaesthesia so they had to give me a spinal block that left me with no feeling in my legs,” Peter explained.
Doctors began to stitch and staple Peter’s leg back together with a total of 25 staples and countless stitches inside the actual wound.
“Being fully conscious while they did the operation was a freaky feeling, but one of the nurses could speak a little bit of English so she kept me calm throughout,” he said.
Feeling fine after surgery, Peter was flown home first class to quarantine for 14 days.
They did get to see some sights throughout the trip including stunning Swarovski Crystal World, and a variety of sights in Innsbruck.