Stories

The Race of Tyla's Life

Sunday 20th October 2019 was the day eight-year-old Tyla Christie decided to go for gold.

“Tyla had lapped a few of his friends,” recalls dad Ryan, “His sights were set firmly on his buddy Connor ahead.”

It was the last of the Winter Series motocross event and the second to last lap.

“He was really gunning it!”

Little did Tyla’s family know how close he would come to losing his life.

The eight year old’s fight began on the dusty sand track in Mercer, but it didn’t end there. He’d be up against the clock all day.

Ryan, wife Cara and daughter Kendall, shouted from the side-lines, but their joy was short-lived.

Tyla came out of a lap and briefly left the race line to try and catch his mate.

“Right into the rough stuff,” Ryan says.

Tyla’s bike skidded out from underneath him.

“He landed across the track and the child behind ran straight over Tyla,” Cara says.

Ryan jumped onto the track to shield his fallen son.

“Tyla said he couldn’t breathe and he thought there was something wrong with his lung,” Ryan recalls, “I asked, ‘Can you move your arms? Can you move your legs? Can you get up by yourself?’ Tyla said he could do all three.”

Another father managed to get Tyla’s bike started. Ryan encouraged his son, “You’ve got a lap and a half to go. Go finish the race.”

Cara watched on unimpressed.

“Tyla got on his bloody bike and carried on!” she says.

Cara’s instincts weren’t wrong.

“I could see Tyla wasn’t attempting any of the jumps. I ran over to where he would exit the track.”

Cara took her son’s helmet off. Already taken back by his squeaky voice, Cara wasn’t prepared for her son’s words, “Mum. I’m so scared. I don’t think I’m going to survive!’”

Those words would send those he knew and loved running.

The race to save Tyla had begun.

The ‘chain of survival’ started with the Christie’s family friend, Fabian, telling the organisers to get the medics. Within minutes, Tyla was lying in the back of the track medic’s van.

Ryan looked on stoically but fearful for his son’s life. He could see Tyla’s neck was swelling as his boy watched him with wide eyes.

“I was trying to get the medic’s attention without panicking Tyla. I didn’t know what to say and I knew my son was trying to read my face.”

In a few minutes, more ambulance crew arrived. Among the team was Intensive Care Paramedic (ICP) Kateshe Clark, wife of the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust’s ICP Russell “Rusty” Clark.