Nelson Motocross ace Max Singleton’s speedy recovering from a freak farming accident has been helped by his growing body and love of bikes. Photo: Jacob Page.

Back on bike after chest crush


Nelson motocross rider Max Singleton often sits in class and “daydreams “about the horrific farm accident which he has recovered from surprisingly quickly.

On February 3, the 14-year-old was stacking hay on the back of a horse float while his dad Tony was in the car.

While Tony wasn’t reversing much quicker than “walking speed” when Max jumped off the back of the float and tripped over due to him wearing his Dad’s gumboots which were too big, Max was soon pinned underneath by an axle.

“The axle of the float was on top of me,” he says.

“I felt the resistance with the automatic transmission – that was Max curling up underneath the machine.

“I saw the owner of the farm waving his hands and, as soon as I couldn’t see Max, I tweaked that he must have been under there,” Tony says.

“I remember trying to call out for help but the axle was crushing my chest, so I couldn’t yell very loud,” the Nelson College student says.

Max then lost consciousness as Tony rushed to move the float forward to release some of the pressure.

“He had a torso crush and the fluid pressure went into his head,” Tony says.

“Initially the paramedics thought it was a head injury because his head blew up and you couldn’t see his nose, his eyes were sticking out, but that was from the fluid being trapped and not being able to go anywhere else,” Tony says.

Max was transported by Life Flight aeroplane to Wellington Hospital where he entered intensive care for four days.

“I had a multiple broken ribs which had gone into my lungs and I had two vertebrae which I had broken a bit, a broken collarbone, pelvis and stretched the ACL in my knee,” Max says.

Doctors told Max he would not be able to compete in Motocross for one year because of the ACL injury.

However, Max’s love of mountain biking had strengthened his knee and the fact he was only 14 and he was growing into his body meant he had room to recover faster.

“If he was 16 or 17, it would have probably required surgery to fix,” Tony says.

Max competed at the Nelson Motocross Championships last month and will do the same this Sunday at the Nelson Secondary School Championships at Valley 88.

“My motocross fitness is not there yet, it’s hard to maintain my form for three laps without getting tired,”

Max and Tony agreed they were both more careful when working now and take their time doing jobs.

They also say they owe a lot to the medical professionals who helped Max.

“When the Life Flight envelope came in the mail for a donation, it’s fair to say we did it quickly,” Tony says.