It was only a week ago that our friends at Moto Magazine spoke with Katherine Prumm on how she is looking forward to the new season and how she is now fighting fit but unfortunately that changed over the weekend as Katherine suffered a back injury which will require surgery.
The YZ250F rider, who led the 2008 FIM Women’s Motocross World Championship before her season was curtailed by a broken collarbone, over-jumped a triple step-down and in the ensuing tumble caused damage to her spine with the T6, T9 and T12 most affected.
But it is the memory of the accident itself that is most vivid for the Pukekohe rider, who jumped to the top of the world as a teenager in 2006 and 2007... After mistiming a jump, she landed heavily and plummeted 3m off the track, landing head-first next to a creek with the bike crashing on to her back.
"I couldn't move my legs for about a minute, it was the most terrifying thing to go through," Prumm told NZPA today from her hospital bed. "I never, ever want to be in a wheelchair and that was just running through my mind over and over. I was a bit out of it at the time but my friend said that I was screaming and screaming."
Fortunately, training partner and New Zealand junior rider Ethan Martens was on hand, but there was drama to follow when he attempted to call an ambulance. All vehicles from nearby stations were attending a traffic accident, leaving Prumm lying in agony for 40 minutes as an ambulance made its way from Te Atatu.
"When the ambulance did finally arrive, it took another 15 minutes to get me out of the track because they can't go over bumps with a spinal injury, so that was pretty terrifying. They didn't want to rush so it was another hour to get me to the hospital. It would be the scariest thing I've ever gone through and it's the worst pain I've ever had."
Upon arrival at the hospital she was seen by five doctors and after a multitude of scans and X-rays, surgeons decided on the best way to operate on the three fractured vertebrae, none of which were consecutive. They fused each of the unstable vertebrae to stable ones above and below.
"It (the operation) took a lot of thought and they didn't know what was going to happen," she said. "Up until today I was pretty freaked out but as far as I'm aware it has gone well. I'm still flat on my back and I'll be fitted with a brace to wear for the next three months."
Prumm is to attempt sitting up tomorrow but beyond that she has no idea what her future holds in terms of mobility, let alone whether she will ever return to the sport she loves.
She had been training in preparation for a tilt at the 2009 world title and her 2008 campaign began promisingly when she signed a lucrative deal with Yamaha but a knee injury and broken collarbone ended her hopes of a third crown. Now a far more serious injury may bring the end to a career that promised plenty.
"As far as recovery goes, I haven't really been told too much yet, about walking or riding," she said. "I think I'm more anxious to find out whether I'll be all right or not. Not a lot else matters at the moment."
Our thoughts are with you Katherine and we wish you a speedy recovery!