A devoted dad is calling for a change in law to make it compulsory for people using bikes to wear helmets after his son ended up in intensive care following a horror smash.
Dale Percival wants there to be a requirement for all cyclists to wear the protective equipment after his son Jude, 12, flipped over his bike handlebars and smashed his head on concrete.
He was not wearing a helmet at the time.
After being rushed to hospital and put in intensive care, the youngster was found to have bleeding on the brain.
Dale, 38, today told the Echo: “When I got there and saw him face down, I thought he was dead.
“No parent should I have to go through that, which is why I think there needs to be a change in the law over helmets.”
Jude was out with pals in Red House area of Sunderland on Saturday.
“He was on the bench next to the cemetery at Witherwack, coming down from where the Dagmar pub used to be, when it happened.
“They’ve been going about 20mph when one of his friends has clipped his back wheel and he’s gone over the handlebars and smashed his head off the concrete.
“He then had a fit and was going in and out of consciousness.
“Luckily, every kid these days has a phone and one of them called 999.
“When I got there, I thought he was dead at first.
“Then he was just screaming. It was horrible.”
Jude, a promising footballer who has been with Sunderland AFC’s Academy in the past, was rushed by ambulance to Newcastle’s RVI.
Thankfully, no spinal damage was found, although it was discovered that he had bleeding on his brain.
“All of the neuro surgeons have seen him and they say he’s doing remarkably well considering what he has been through,” added Dale, who is a promoter with Made 4 The Cage Fighting Championship and also a gym owner.
“He’s a real fighter. Thankfully, his stats have levelled now so that he can be moved out of intensive care and onto the neurological ward.
“The important thing is that he’s alive.”
Dale, who is married to Jude’s mum Jacqueline, 40, with who he also has Louie, 10, has shared pictures on his Facebook profile of Jude recovering in hospital while also calling for a change in the law so that all people must be wear helmets while out on bikes.
“I’ve put stuff on Facebook to show the dangers of not wearing a helmet,” said Dale, of Grangetown in Sunderland.
“If Jude had had one on, we could have just been talking about the bruises he’s got on his arms and legs, instead we were seeing him lying in a hospital bed having his clothes cut off him.
“You wouldn’t do a parachute jump without a parachute would you? So this should be happening to make people safer.
“Lots of people have agreed with me and many have said that it’s made them think. “We all want our kids to get out and about instead of sitting at home in front of their XBox or whatever, but this has made me realise how dangerous bikes can be.
“Just because people my age played out without helmets on 20 or 30 years ago doesn’t mean it’s alright to do it now.”
Dale and the rest of Jude’s family have also praised the NHS staff who have helped him since the accident.
“He’s in the best place possible with it being a head trauma specialist centre and despite everything, things are looking positive,” said Dale.
“That’s thanks to the staff, who are amazing.
“It’s them who saved his life when he got hurt by getting oxygen into him.
“If not for them, he could be paralysed or even worse.”
Charity back’s dad’s plea
Brain injury charity Headway has backed Dale Pervical’s calls for measures to be introduced which would require children riding a bike to wear a helmet.
Currently, there is no law in the UK which makes it compulsory for children to wear them.
Peter McCabe, chief executive of the organisation, which has support groups across the North East, said: “We are saddened to hear of Jude’s accident and our thoughts go to his family at this difficult time.
“Sadly, at Headway we hear too often of families or individuals wishing they had worn a helmet when cycling.
“We all think ‘it will never happen to me’, but the reality is that an accident can happen to anyone at any time.
“The evidence is clear: cycle helmets can save lives and prevent people from sustaining lifelong brain injuries.
“We believe that all cyclists should protect themselves by wearing helmets - particularly vulnerable road users such as children who lack the experience or competency of adults.
“It is the charity’s view that the UK should follow the lead of other nations including the USA, Canada and Australia in making helmets compulsory for children.
“Our simple message is to enjoy cycling, but please - use your head, use a helmet.”
For more on the charity go to www.headway.org.uk/get-involved/campaigns/cycle-helmets.