Northern Ontario woman 'comes full circle' after losing leg in crash with bear
Matt Duke and his wife Nicki Galley never expected a sunny day in 2014 would forever change their lives.
The couple from New Liskeard hopped on their motorcycle and went for a ride in June 2014.
They both spotted something in the ditch.
"I had a nanosecond to try and react," he said. "I knew we weren't going to miss it. We hit the bear square on."
They both survived, but not without injury.
"I reached over and I shut the bike off and then I heard this, I'll never forget it, this blood-curdling scream out of Nicki," Duke recalled.
"I kind of got up out the ditch and I looked up the road and I saw this bear lying on its back. I saw [Nicki's] helmet … and then I saw this leg lying on the road."
Duke says Galley's leg was cut off when she hit the guardrail after being thrown from the bike. Galley had serious injuries and suffered serious bleeding and many broken bones. Some of her internal organs were outside her body as a result of the crash.
Duke was injured as well, but did what he could to help his wife.
"I remembered back to lots of First Aid training that I've had," he said.
Duke found his phone and called 911. A driver stopped to help but started to panic when he realized the seriousness of the situation. Duke put him aside with his phone and went back to help his wife.
Eventually, an Ornge Air Ambulance showed up. She was flown to Sudbury then shortly after taken to Toronto.
"I remember the whole helicopter ride," Galley said.
"I just remember asking how long it was going to be because I wanted to get there. I wanted to get fixed up."
She woke up nine days later in the trauma centre at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto.
"When I remember waking up, my son was there [and] he was holding my hand," she said.
"He was the first person I saw."
Coming full circle
At that point, she still didn't know she had lost her leg in the crash. Her mother mentioned she would have to deal with her amputation.
"My poor mom was shocked that I didn't know and she had broke the news," she said.
"I thought, 'I'm alive and I've lost a leg. That's no big deal. I'd rather be around without a leg than not be around at all.'"
Galley just went back to work this year, and she said she's not as active as she was before the crash.
Despite that, she and Duke snowshoe in the winter, she swims and she also ran a 5 km race this year.
"I feel like I've come full circle now," she said.