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"I thought I was going to die" - Sir Richard Branson cheats death in bike crash

Virgin boss says his bike disappeared over a cliff in crash in British Virgin Islands

Sir Richard Branson has said "my life flashed before me" after a bike crash earlier this week while cycling in the British Virgin Islands - with his bike being "completely destroyed" after it was thrown over a cliff.

Writing on Virgin.com, the billionaire entrepreneur said: "A couple of nights ago I went cycling on Virgin Gorda with Holly and Sam [his children] as part of my training for the Virgin Strive Challenge," which will see the trio join a group aiming to raise £1.5 million for charity by running, cycling and swimming more than 2,000 kilometres from the Matterhorn to Mount Etna.

"I was heading down a hill towards Leverick Bay when it suddenly got really dark and I managed to hit a ‘sleeping policeman’ hump in the road head on. The next thing I knew, I was being hurled over the handlebars and my life was literally flashing before my eyes.

"I really thought I was going to die," Branson continued. "I went flying head-first towards the concrete road, but fortunately my shoulder and cheek took the brunt of the impact, and I was wearing a helmet that saved my life (however, perhaps they should build bike helmets that protect the side of the face too - does anyone know of one?).

"My bike went flying off the cliff and disappeared. We’ve since recovered the crumpled bicycle, completely destroyed. My cheek has been badly damaged and my knee, chin, shoulder and body severely cut.

"As I landed, once I realised I was alive, I began testing my movement. I really couldn't believe I was alive, let alone not paralysed. Coincidentally, the first person to arrive on the scene was my assistant Helen, who had just returned from holiday. She was wondering who was lying prostrate on the road. I was so glad to be alive that I quickly was able to summon my sense of humour, and said to her: 'I’m alive! At least you’ve still got a job!'

Branson said he went to Miami for x-rays, "but have been extremely fortunate that apart from a cracked cheek and some torn ligaments I hopefully will be able to complete the Virgin Strive Challenge next month.

"My biggest hardship is having to drink tea out of a straw. Oh, and being called elephant man by a six year old!"

He added: "My attitude has always been, if you fall flat on your face, at least you’re moving forward. All you have to do is get back up and try again. At least I’m practising what I preach – though a little too literally!"

The island where the crash happened is the third most populous of the British Virgin Islands and lies close to Necker Island, which Branson owns.

It's not Branson's first brush with death, others including his first-ever parachute jump in 1987 when he managed to unhook his own parachute and was saved in mid-air by his instructor, and several close call during his hot air balloon record attempts.

He noted that in a forthcoming documentary charting those exploits, his co-pilot Per Lindstrand, referring to Branson, repeated Napoleon Bonaparte's famous question when making new military appointments - “I know he's a good general, but is he lucky?”

Simon joined road.cc as news editor in 2009 and is now the site’s community editor, acting as a link between the team producing the content and our readers. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, he has reported on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, the latest developments in the bike industry and the sport’s biggest races. Now back in London full-time after 15 years living in Oxford and Cambridge, he loves cycling along the Thames but misses having his former riding buddy, Elodie the miniature schnauzer, in the basket in front of him.

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31 comments

Avatar
Eltelski | 7 years ago
0 likes

I cant believe that any genuine cyclist would post some of this rubbish on Branson post, suspect they have not been in the same situation themselves. No one wants to see any cyclist injured it does not matter who they are, grow up

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tritecommentbot replied to Eltelski | 7 years ago
0 likes
Eltelski wrote:

I cant believe that any genuine cyclist would post some of this rubbish on Branson post, suspect they have not been in the same situation themselves. No one wants to see any cyclist injured it does not matter who they are, grow up

 

Cyclist injured? Or person injured? Does your empathy only extend to people hurt when riding a bicycle?

 

Please elaborate.

 

Personally the more decent a person is the more I tend to give a toss about them. 

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arowland | 7 years ago
0 likes

If a cyclist can receive injuries like these, and have their bike totally destroyed, by a piece of infrastructure that cannot be seen in the dark, then a) sleeping policemen clearly have no place on a public road and b) the authorities are negligent in installing it (or installing it so badly or failing to maintain it so it is visible).

It is terrifying to think these things are installed to stretch right across the width of the road so -- unlike potholes even -- you cannot dodge them. I hope Branson gets one of his lawyers to write a strongly worded letter to the authorities in the Islands about this, and that highways departments elsewhere take note.

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burtthebike | 7 years ago
0 likes

The real reason "Tell them it was a bike accident Corbyn tells Branson"

https://newstoad.net/2016/08/26/tell-them-it-was-a-bike-accident-corbyn-...

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Travis | 7 years ago
0 likes

If it's not on Strava... it didn't happen.

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Bikeylikey | 7 years ago
0 likes

Bit of a drama queen. Pro's take falls worse than this as part of their everyday job and usually get back on and keep going. I suppose he is 66, but still, what fuss.

I see he hasn't taken the golden opportunity to get rid of the horrible old beard; what a shame. 

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dafyddp | 7 years ago
4 likes

Give the guy a break! Rich man, poor man, thats going to be painful. At 66 it's also going to take longer to heal regardless of the quality of care he can afford.

Ditch the envy, feel the pain. 

 

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Jimnm replied to dafyddp | 7 years ago
0 likes
dafyddp wrote:

Give the guy a break! Rich man, poor man, thats going to be painful. At 66 it's also going to take longer to heal regardless of the quality of care he can afford.

Ditch the envy, feel the pain. 

 

Absolutely!

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brooksby | 7 years ago
1 like

And: I'm glad to see so many of our contributors have started saying "should have" rather than the trademarked expression "should've"  1  1

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brooksby | 7 years ago
3 likes

And: he cheats rail users, music listeners, HMRC, and now he's cheating death...  1

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brooksby | 7 years ago
1 like

I hate to throw petrol on a fire, but if he took the brunt of the impact on his body and shoulder, how does he know that the helmet saved his life?

 

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burtthebike | 7 years ago
1 like

OMG, yet another "helmet saved my life" story, the only difference this time being that the person saying it is a tax-dodging billionaire who needs a bit of friendly publicity after the Corbyn debacle.

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ooldbaker | 7 years ago
10 likes

He always was a bit accident prone. On one of his adventures in a balloon crossing the atlantic with his pilot Per Lindstrand they took a dog. I heard from Per Lindstrand's assistant that the story went that it was Per Linstrand's job to fly the balloon, Richard Branson's job to look after the dog and the dog's job to bite Richard Branson if he ever went near the controls.

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Sam Saunders | 7 years ago
5 likes

The question in all this that must be closer to cycling's heart is why he credits  the helmet with saving his life when he also says "my shoulder and cheek took the brunt of the impact".  Helmets reduce the damage from some impacts but the incidence and end result of any fall or collision depend on a lot of other factors.

For one thing (relevant here) the single most common cause of cyclist admissions to hospitals in the UK are solo efforts involving one cyclist and one serious road defect (ice, hole, kerb etc).

Faith in helmets is not good enough and perhaps should not be routinely reported in cases like this without challenge or comment.  The need to mend dangerous surfaces might be more important here than any question about helmets.

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droshky | 7 years ago
1 like

I seem to remember another Branson incident some years ago, writing off his Range Rover. In both cases, he left the road upside down with no other vehicle involved, and no evident acceptance of 100 per cent responsibility. How does he get on when he doesn't own the road? 

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Judge dreadful | 7 years ago
0 likes

Pussy.  That's not much to write home about. That said, some folk react differently to a 'face plant'. Get well soon.

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Carton | 7 years ago
6 likes

Glad he's ok. You can quibble about labelling if you wan't but a cyclist is a cyclist in my book, I'll always try to lend a hand if I can when someone hits the deck, as others have done for me. 

Quote:

Coincidentally, the first person to arrive on the scene was my assistant Helen, 

I'd say he's very lucky general.

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foot_loose | 7 years ago
6 likes

He's done more in his life than any of us probably ever will. Give the man a break.

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Jimnm | 7 years ago
12 likes

I am pleased that he is ok. Just because he's mega rich he shouldn't be scorned or made fun of.  It's no joke being ejected from your bike as many of you will know  3

 

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Beecho | 7 years ago
5 likes

Helmet saved his hair...

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DrRocks | 7 years ago
13 likes

Was cycling becasue he couldnt get a seat on the train.

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The _Kaner | 7 years ago
5 likes

Should have taken the train...

"which will see the trio join a group aiming to raise £1.5 million for charity " - I'm sure he could just donate that amount, easily....

"helmet (absolutely/definitely) saved his life" - LOL - wouldn't have been much use if he'd gone over the cliff with the bike...I'd say it was the shoulder and cheek taking the impact and the angle at which he landed that 'saved his life'

..but hey ho... mange tout Rodney!

 

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Shanghaied replied to The _Kaner | 7 years ago
2 likes
The _Kaner wrote:

"which will see the trio join a group aiming to raise £1.5 million for charity " - I'm sure he could just donate that amount, easily....

Yeah that's the part I don't get - it's great that he wants to donate to charity, but consider how much the man earns per hour, it's probably objectively better for the charity if Branson just donated his income from the certain number of hours that he would have otherwise used to train for this event.

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ConcordeCX replied to Shanghaied | 7 years ago
6 likes
Shanghaied wrote:
The _Kaner wrote:

"which will see the trio join a group aiming to raise £1.5 million for charity " - I'm sure he could just donate that amount, easily....

Yeah that's the part I don't get - it's great that he wants to donate to charity, but consider how much the man earns per hour, it's probably objectively better for the charity if Branson just donated his income from the certain number of hours that he would have otherwise used to train for this event.

 

How do you know he isn't doing that as well as riding? His participation generates additional publicity for the cause and increases participation, therefore funds raised, by other people. Besides, maybe he just wants to join in.

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vonhelmet replied to Shanghaied | 7 years ago
5 likes
Shanghaied wrote:
The _Kaner wrote:

"which will see the trio join a group aiming to raise £1.5 million for charity " - I'm sure he could just donate that amount, easily....

Yeah that's the part I don't get - it's great that he wants to donate to charity, but consider how much the man earns per hour, it's probably objectively better for the charity if Branson just donated his income from the certain number of hours that he would have otherwise used to train for this event.

Observation: Any mention of person A donating money to charity will lead to person B, who earns less than person A, whinging about how person A isn't donating enough, as though person B is donating 99% of their meagre salary and living in sackcloth like some new Mother Theresa.

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Hipshot replied to vonhelmet | 7 years ago
4 likes
vonhelmet wrote:
Shanghaied wrote:
The _Kaner wrote:

"which will see the trio join a group aiming to raise £1.5 million for charity " - I'm sure he could just donate that amount, easily....

Yeah that's the part I don't get - it's great that he wants to donate to charity, but consider how much the man earns per hour, it's probably objectively better for the charity if Branson just donated his income from the certain number of hours that he would have otherwise used to train for this event.

Observation: Any mention of person A donating money to charity will lead to person B, who earns less than person A, whinging about how person A isn't donating enough, as though person B is donating 99% of their meagre salary and living in sackcloth like some new Mother Theresa.

But yours is a rubbish observation in my view. It's been well demonstrated that  people on a low incomes (anonymously) donate far more to charity than rich people (very publicly) do.

By the way, it's a safe bet that person B pays 100% of the tax they owe, and don't systematically avoid or evade through a variety of means like Branson does.

 

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Rapha Nadal replied to Hipshot | 7 years ago
1 like
Hipshot wrote:
vonhelmet wrote:
Shanghaied wrote:
The _Kaner wrote:

"which will see the trio join a group aiming to raise £1.5 million for charity " - I'm sure he could just donate that amount, easily....

Yeah that's the part I don't get - it's great that he wants to donate to charity, but consider how much the man earns per hour, it's probably objectively better for the charity if Branson just donated his income from the certain number of hours that he would have otherwise used to train for this event.

Observation: Any mention of person A donating money to charity will lead to person B, who earns less than person A, whinging about how person A isn't donating enough, as though person B is donating 99% of their meagre salary and living in sackcloth like some new Mother Theresa.

But yours is a rubbish observation in my view. It's been well demonstrated that  people on a low incomes (anonymously) donate far more to charity than rich people (very publicly) do.

Not always.  A client of mine has worked with, and is friends with, a very high public profile celebrity.  Said celeb once made a $1m donation to a cancer charity in my client's name just to avoid the publicity.  Client's wife almost had a heart attack when they recieved the thank you letter from the charity!  Rich people can be quite discreet with their donations!

Avatar
Shanghaied replied to vonhelmet | 7 years ago
2 likes
vonhelmet wrote:
Shanghaied wrote:
The _Kaner wrote:

"which will see the trio join a group aiming to raise £1.5 million for charity " - I'm sure he could just donate that amount, easily....

Yeah that's the part I don't get - it's great that he wants to donate to charity, but consider how much the man earns per hour, it's probably objectively better for the charity if Branson just donated his income from the certain number of hours that he would have otherwise used to train for this event.

Observation: Any mention of person A donating money to charity will lead to person B, who earns less than person A, whinging about how person A isn't donating enough, as though person B is donating 99% of their meagre salary and living in sackcloth like some new Mother Theresa.

No, you are right, I'm not donating 99% of my meagre salary to charity, just around 10% and not deducting it from my taxes. As said, I've no problem with people donating to charity and do so myself. What I find strange is when people undertake some kind of challenge (mostly involving things they enjoy doing regardless) and asks others to donate while doing so. So I'm planning to walk the Great Glen next summer, anyone want to donate to my favourite charities (MSF, Amnesty International, and the Red Cross)? No money? I'll also take blood donation at your local blood bank.

Avatar
ConcordeCX replied to Shanghaied | 7 years ago
0 likes
Shanghaied][quote=vonhelmet wrote:

[...]

What I find strange is when people undertake some kind of challenge (mostly involving things they enjoy doing regardless) and asks others to donate while doing so. So I'm planning to walk the Great Glen next summer, anyone want to donate to my favourite charities (MSF, Amnesty International, and the Red Cross)? No money? I'll also take blood donation at your local blood bank.

 

what do you find so strange about it? Never done a sponsored walk? There are sites like justgiving all over the internet for people who want to raise more. They do a challenging event, get their family, friends, colleagues etc to sponsor them and raise more than they would have done otherwise. In addition they inspire their family, friends etc perhaps to do a challenge event, and they increase the network of supporters. It's a major source of income for charities.

Why don't you set up a page yourself and ask people here and in your flesh&blood network to donate for your Great Glen walk? You have nothing to lose, and your charities have a lot to gain.

 

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tritecommentbot | 7 years ago
15 likes

Yeah b*tch, that's what happens when you f**k with the mighty Corbynator, Purger of Blairites, Smiter of Red Tories.

 

I mean, glad you're okay. Ahem.

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