Kayaker tells of brush with death

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A Melbourne kayaker knew he had only a minute to live unless he broke his own leg to escape from his upturned craft in raging white water.
David Wilson was trapped after his kayak was sucked under water when he tried to
slide past a fallen tree in the Kiewa River, in northeast Victoria, last weekend.
He said his engineering knowledge told him that his only option was to break one of
his legs to free himself, as huge volumes of water kept his craft lodged against the
"I managed to create an air pocket with a powerful push and had a look around but
knew I could not do that again," he told AAP.
"I had less than a minute (before drowning), but I was still in the boat with the
sheer force of the water pushing my shins against the top of the cockpit and my
heels against the bottom of the boat and was not going anywhere."
The father-of-two released his spray deck, which covered his legs, flooding the boat
and tried to force the lower part of his 260cm frame free.
"I have long legs, I tried to wriggle my feet out, I straightened my back, tried to
push myself up and started rocking, hoping one or both legs would break," he said.
"My left knee snapped and the force of the water broke my leg ... there was about a
five and a half feet (1.7 metres) leverage acting on it so my engineering degree
paid off, and rolled out.
"I was absolutely relieved, surprised I was calm and focused on the situation,
towards the end I started to seriously think my number was up ... but there's too
much to live for."
Mr Wilson, a 38-year-old engineer from Northcote, said he would get straight back
into his kayak once his leg was healed.
He was nearing the end of a second day of kayaking with friends last Sunday when he
got into trouble.
He was the last of four kayakers to negotiate a sharp, steep bend and large fallen
tree, but got sucked underwater alongside the log.
"I was the last to go and headed down, there was heavy white water and a huge log
blocking two thirds of the river with all of the current going under it," Mr Wilson
"I skirted along the edge but was trapped and got pinned to the bottom of the river."
His friends pulled him out of the water and fortunately one of his fellow kayakers,
Richard Kjar, is an orthopaedic surgeon and made a splint for his broken leg.
The group had hiked 10km into rugged bushland to get to the river and two of them
kayaked ahead to call for help.
After spending the night in the bush, Mr Wilson was flown to hospital in a
helicopter after being tied to a 50-metre winch.
Mr Wilson received emergency surgery for a broken tibia below his knee and faces
several months of rehabilitation.