Road trauma victim turns road safety champion

A man with dark hair, wearing all black, sitting in his wheelchair in front of a car

Neil Hart counts his blessings when he talks about his life-changing move to Australia following road trauma which left him requiring the use of a wheelchair.

Born in India, Neil was working as a delivery driver in Saudi Arabia more than twenty-years ago when he was involved in a horrific car crash.

“One of my rear tyres burst and I lost control of the vehicle. The vehicle skidded until it got caught in the fencing and was going into a somersault. I went into a black out,“ Neil said.

Neil thinks he was thrown through the van’s windscreen at impact. He regained consciousness in a pool of mud with his vehicle mangled in the nearby fencing. Passersby helped him off the road.

“I tried to get up but couldn't move a muscle below my chest. It was as if I was sliced into half,” he said.

“The ambulance came and took me to hospital and then I was told that I had a spinal cord injury.”

The road trauma shattered Neil’s spine and he was sent back home to Kerala, India because the company who had sponsored him no longer had use for him. Neil’s parents then became his carers.

“I was living inside the house for eight years living just inside the house because it was a shame for me,” Neil said.

Life changed again when he met “his angel” a woman who would become his wife. Together they moved to Australia and now live in Butler, north of Perth in Western Australia.

A man in a wheelchair, with a happy expression on his face pictured in front a body of water

"Australia made me do so many things. For a start, I was able to drive again but not the way I used to, driving fast like an idiot,” he said.

“Now, I am a different man, having learnt things the hard way. I work for Paraplegic Benefit Fund (PBF) as a Road and Workplace Injury prevention presenter.

“I go to schools and workplaces and tell them consequences of driving fast. I also have my own business in which I do workshops on disability awareness. I assemble computers and create websites.”

Neil’s motto "making the best out of this life” continues to be achievable thanks to funding from the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) and support from APM.

The scheme funds his wheelchair, physiotherapy and other consumables which he requires in his day-to-day life.

“APM, is very professional and caring. They are always following up when I am stuck. Especially Caitlin from Warwick who I could say is the best LAC ever,” he said.

As part of the NDIS Partners in the Community program, APM Communities help people with disability in several regions in Western Australia, Queensland and the Northern Territory to access support.