By Hannah Phillips
A cyclist nearly killed in an ‘ironic’ horror hit and run near the finish of a 1,000 mile charity bike ride has learned to walk again – just ONE WEEK after leaving intensive care.
Jean-Pierre de Villiers, 37, from Welton, Northants, was 800 miles into the cross-country cycling challenge from John O’Groats in Scotland to Land’s End in Cornwall and two days from completing it when he was knocked off his bike in North Devon on May 22.
After the driver fled the scene, the South African athlete, motivational speaker and author, known as JP, was found after a passer-by spotted a vehicle with a smashed windscreen driving towards her before spotting his smashed bike and hearing screams coming from the side of the road.
JP was airlifted to Derriford Hospital in Plymouth with two badly broken legs, a fractured arm and other potentially life-threatening internal injuries including a perforated bowel and punctured lung.
His wife three years, Jules Cameron De Villiers, believes angels were watching over her husband as within 10 minutes of the accident, a paramedic and off duty police officer coincidentally passed the scene as well as a member of the RNLI who was able to bring oxygen.
The proud partner, 32, a jewellery business owner and voiceover actor, said: “It was such a horrific thing to happen, but at the same time we can’t believe how lucky we were.
“At first, I didn’t know if he was going to make it.
“Doctors said if he wasn’t as fit as he was, he might not have and certainly if wasn’t wearing a helmet we would be telling a very different story.
“The crash was so senseless, it was almost like it had happened on purpose.”
The car hit Jean-Pierre with such force he went over the car, flew over the barriers at the side of the road and was discovered wedged in between a tree and the barrier with his bike shattered into pieces.
After multiple complex operations to improve his condition he developed a chest infection which caused breathing problems and an irregular heartbeat.
JP had been just two days away from completing the fundraiser in honour of a friend’s daughter who lost her life to a brain tumour aged 16.
But ironically, in the aftermath of the crash his family and friends set up their own GoFundMe page for him to help with rehabilitation – which smashed its initial target of £20,000 in just days and has already reached almost £28,000.
Jules has now released incredible footage of her vegan husband learning to walk again just one week after being discharged from the intensive care ward he spent two weeks in.
He has since been transferred to a hospital in Coventry to be closer to his wife and two dogs, Bella and Zeus.
Jules said: “My husband is the kind of man who goes out of his way to do nice things.
“JP got such a big response on the fundraising page because he does so much work for charity and he’s always helping people.
I found a message on Facebook from a guy saying that during the cycling challenge, JP had stopped to help him fix his car when he broke down, that’s the kind of man he is.
“He’s had thousands of messages, people telling me stories of how he has had a positive effect on them.
“It’s been amazing to see his positive attitude but it’s also been hard because even getting out of bed is exhausting for him and he’s lost so much weight.
“The first time he got up, he realised how long and hard it’s going to be learning to walk again.
“But I have no doubt JP will use what’s happened to him as fuel to inspire even more people.”
Devon Police said a 69-year-old man from Ilfracombe was arrested on suspicion of dangerous driving, taking a vehicle without consent, driving while disqualified and driving whilst unfit.