A 27-year-old Australian man suffered a broken back while taking part in aerial sports in France. His mother did not even know if he was alive as she rushed to be with him. He recently returned to his home in Sydney, Australia.
Miles Cottman is a professional skydiver and has over 5,500 jumps to his credit. He was “speed flying” when the accident occurred, which combines skydiving and paragliding. His injury occurred when he smashed into a mountainside. He was traveling at an estimated speed of 120 miles an hour.
Sarah Cottman, his mother, said she that, at the time, did not even know if her son was alive. She received messages about the accident. According to Sarah, one message began with “I’m sorry to have to tell you …” She said she scrolled down to see if it would say her son were dead, but the message did not say that.
After the injury, Cottman was flown to Grenoble University Hospital.
While traveling to the hospital, Sarah received another message about her son. “It said, ‘I’m really to sorry to hear what happened to Miles. I only knew him for two weeks,’” Sarah said.
Sarah said that she did not think her son had insurance. It turns out her initial thoughts were correct. In addition to her son’s injuries, she worried about how her family would afford the bills to pay for his accident. Fortunately, the hospital originally told Sarah not to worry about the money and worry about her son’s healing—but they did say that the family should seek help.
Cottman—who is a citizen of both Australia and the United Kingdom—did not think about getting travel insurance.
After the incident, the family asked for help. Many skydivers answered the call to help. A total of $90,000 was raised. It covered the $85,000 hospital bill, as well as costs associated with staying in Grenoble while Cottman recovered from his injuries.
Sarah Cottman appreciates everybody’s support and feels indebted to many. “We don’t take it lightly,” she said. She also said that her son felt dumb for not having travel insurance. According to Sarah, without the help her family would have had to remortgage their home.
Cottman has recovered from his broken back, although is on crutches. “They have said I will make a 100 percent recovery,” he said. He intends to return to the sport; his mother said she does not like his decision.
In the future, he said, he will be smarter about his choices.
Cottman’s accident was captured on his GoPro camera that was attached to his head. Previously, he performed a similar jump in Les Deuz Alpes. The accident occurred when he turned too quickly and his parachute was caught.
A group from a French school called for help. Cottman said that he remembers the entire experience until he was given medication that knocked him out. “I remember getting the MRI and they were trying to take my piercings out,” Cottman said. “I woke up just before mom came in. I remember mom walking in [and] I thought I was in trouble.”
Currently, Cottman’s being treated at the Royal North Shore and Mona Vale Hospitals in Sydney. Cottman said, “Mom says it’s a miracle, but the doctors were just doing their job.”