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Injured paraglider “positive” despite serious injuries

Queenstown adventurer Nick Neynens keeps his spirits up in a French hospital after an accident at the edge of a cliff in France.

“Nick is positive – he’s smiling, I don’t think he’s faking it,” said her friend Susy Goldner.

On June 14, Neynens was paragliding in the French Alps, when his glider collapsed and hit a rock face, and his reserve canopy did not have time to deploy sufficiently.

The accident resulted in serious head and spinal injuries, which “immobilized” him.

“Nick’s head took a big hit even through his helmet, so it’s fantastic that he’s recovered well and quickly,” Ms Goldner said.

“As for his spinal injury, well, Nick has more spine than all of us put together, plus a unique attitude, and that’s going to give him a huge advantage.”

In a video update Mr Neynens shared on his YouTube channel, he said he couldn’t feel his legs properly at the moment, “and they don’t know if it’s going to come back or not”.

His mother, Karen, is with him.

Mr Neynens was the first New Zealander to take part in Red Bull’s X-Alps adventure race in 2015 – in which he finished 10th and was named athlete of the event, having come from last place on the first day, which earned him the nickname “the comeback”. Kiwi” – and has competed there several times since.

Ms Goldner said she heard about Mr Neynens’ crash straight away and monitored the progress of the rescue from a live tracking app used by paragliders.

“Like so many people who heard about it, I felt bad and wanted to help.”

She, Andrew Dobinson and Hammed Malik had set up a GoFundMe page – she had raised over $50,000 in four days.

The funds would be used to get Mr Neynens on a repatriation flight to Brisbane, which is due to leave today, and for other medical and living expenses.