Hall of Fame jockey Jim Cassidy has revealed how close he came to death after being involved in a horror head-on car accident on Saturday.
Cassidy, 53, suffered bleeding on the brain and bruising to his body after a car allegedly veered onto the wrong side of the road and collided with the retired hoop's trusted Nissan X-Trail while taking a corner in wet conditions.
The accident occurred not far from Lynwood Country Club in Sydney's north-west where Cassidy had that afternoon played golf with former Australian cricketer Doug Bollinger and watched The Autumn Sun's dramatic win in the Randwick Guineas.
He was on the phone to his wife, Vicki, when the accident happened.
"I thought I was dead," Cassidy told the Herald from his hospital bed. "I don't know how I got out of it the way I did but I did.
"We were going around a corner. The other bloke came to the corner, I could see him, I was 50 metres away. All of a sudden, he went bang into my windscreen. He lost control on the wet road and just hit me head on. I had nowhere to go. If I went to the left, I would've hit a tree.
"The airbag went off. I've never seen one go off before. With all the dust, I thought the car was on fire. I was panicking so I was just trying to get out. They found me staggering around on the road."
Cassidy was rushed by ambulance to Westmead Hospital where he remains in a stable condition.
"I've got a sore head and a sore body but I'm blessed," he said. "I have a little bit of bleeding on the brain but that's stopped, according to the neurosurgeons. My head is quite big. My head smashed into the driver's side window. It was swelling up right before my Mum's eyes yesterday. The right side of my face is so sore. They were giving me morphine but it didn't seem to work.
"I'm looking to being discharged tomorrow [Tuesday] with bruising to the body and just the trauma of it. It threw me around the car a lot. I'm just very thankful that I had a seat belt on and the airbag worked. Very, very lucky boy."
One of the sport's greatest jockeys before retiring in 2015, Cassidy suffered numerous race falls and injuries throughout his illustrious riding career.
His worst came in 1991 when he was catapulted off the Rick Hore-Lacy-trained Diddy Do It in the Blue Diamond Stakes at Caulfield. As Cassidy lay prone on the ground, the fallen horse slid over the top of him.
Renowned for having a high pain threshold, Cassidy didn't go to hospital but X-rays later revealed he had a 14-centimetre crack in his sternum.
"I would rather fall off a horse any day than experience what I just experienced," Cassidy said. "Last night, I was trying to sleep but I kept seeing this car coming at me. I've never been a speeder. Driven all over Australia and New Zealand, five or six hours to race meetings, but I'm very cautious on the road. I would only speed on horses. The faster they go the better. But not in cars."
He added: "I keep getting a lot of text messages of support. I've got a lot of living and laughing to do yet, brother. I'm not going anywhere. I was supposed to take Vick to dinner on Saturday night. I haven't been home yet. I'm still at the hospital."
Cassidy said he was yet to be contacted by police about the accident.
"I'm worried about my golf clubs and shoes," he quipped. "Normally it would be my riding gear but now that I play golf three times a week I'm worried about my golf gear. Do you know how hard it is to find a pair of size five golf shoes?"
Article courtesy of Nine and The Sydney Morning Herald