Montreal

Isabelle Richer says serious bike crash 'could have been much worse'

While she doesn't believe in miracles, Radio-Canada investigative journalist Isabelle Richer says she knows just how lucky she is as she continues down her road to recovery from a June bike crash.

Radio-Canada journalist gives first interview since June crash that left her in coma

Veteran Radio-Canada journalist Isabelle Richer is in critical condition after being hit by a truck while cycling near Rougemont, Que. (Radio-Canada)

Veteran investigative journalist Isabelle Richer was supposed to start this fall at the helm of Radio-Canada's investigative program, Enquête.

Instead, she's dividing her time between medical appointments and physiotherapy as she slowly recovers from head trauma and a neck fracture suffered in a June cycling crash.

"I'm not angry or sad… I tell my friends In don't have time for that," she told Radio-Canada's Alain Gravel on his new morning radio show Gravel le matin on Monday morning.

"I'm too busy with physio and everything else."

In her first interview since the crash, Richer says she's doing well, but knows she still has a long road ahead of her.

"When the neck fracture has healed, when the spinal damage is gone, you look good, but beneath it all you still have the head trauma," she said.

"It's important that I don't forget it myself...because it's true that you look fine. I got my vivacity back, my same sharpness, my love. But you have to be careful because that injury that is still fundamentally real is the head trauma."

Richer had been a cyclist for 15 years, and a cautious one at that, when she headed out cycling on a highway near Rougemont, Que. in June.

The helmet Isabelle Richer was wearing at time of crash. (Marie-Maude Denis/Radio-Canada)

She says they were doing everything right, hugging the edge of the road, when she was hit by truck attempting to pass.

She was in a coma for several days before she awoke in the hospital. Richer said her family and her boyfriend, who was with her at the time of the crash, were by her side throughout her recovery.

"He said, 'I don't know how many times you asked me, 'What happened?'" Richer said.  

"I have no memory of asking him that question. I would love to have a romantic memory of [waking from the coma] and be able to tell you I opened my eyes in the hospital and I saw my parents, my love and said, 'What am I doing here?' It wasn't like that at all. I can't tell you what was my first memory of the hospital."

Even today, all she can remember is the morning before she set out on the road and foggy recollections of those first days in hospital. 

Richer still suffers from double vision and has a hard time reading. However, she can walk and her physical injuries have largely healed.

She hopes to get back on her bike again next summer. 

It's a story she knows too well that could have had a very different ending. 

"Little by little, I realized I was blessed [even with] my bad luck because yes, it's true, the accident it was bad luck and unfortunate, but today I could have been a quadriplegic. It could have been much worse."

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