Pleas fall on deaf ears as crowd watches man bleed out
A FORTNIGHT after having his foot amputated, Stanage Bay professional fisherman Jason Mitchell can already see himself standing in the garden with his "pirate leg".
His friends dubbed him "the Stanage Bay pirate" after he was involved in a traffic incident days before he was meant to fly back to Australia from Thailand where he had been working for about three years.
He was riding a motorbike when the car driving beside him veered into his direction of travel and when he tried to get out of its way, his four little toes on his left foot got stuck in a parked car's mag wheel, which tore his foot in half.
"I tried to avoid an accident and I got into one," Jason said.
Initially he was more concerned he had hit and broken the parked car's mirror but when he turned around to apologise he realised the extent of his injury.
"I thought 'oh s--t im going to have to go back and pay for damage' so I turned around and then I felt the wind where my foot was," he said.
"My foot was sliced and half of it was under the foot peg."
Within minutes he went from riding the bike he had travelled on for months, to losing consciousness on the side of the road.
"I watched my blood pouring out of me turn from red to black," he said.
A crowd of locals gathered around him but Jason soon realised they were not there to help but to record him on their phones.
He pleaded with them to call an ambulance and to stop recording, before a familiar face appeared to "save" him from death.
A Fijian man Jason had gotten to know heard about the crash and arrived on scene.
He used Jason's shirt as a bandage and his belt as a torniquet until the ambulance arrived an hour later.
"He saved my life for sure," Jason said.
Shortly after, his boss, who should have been driving boats at sea, arrived on scene and Jason thought he was dead.
"I said 'Is this heaven or hell'," he said.
Jason said having his friends on scene was key to his survival because without them arranging for the ambulance to be paid, he would've been told to get a taxi.
"Money talks over there or they just let you die," he said.
He was rushed into a six hour surgery and spent his first night at a Phuket hospital, which cost $3000 a night.
After six nights, two surgeries and $26,000 spent in hospital Jason's foot "looked like a foot" again and he was given the all-clear to fly home.
"I was far from fine. I had all my wires in my foot and all my wires were pulling and doing all sorts of things," he said. Days after landing on home soil thinking he had avoided amputation he received an x-ray to show the bones in the middle of his foot were missing and his foot also got infected.
One of his toes then went black and he started to lose feeling in his foot. He was then given two options he never thought he'd have to choose between - whether he wanted to amputate from his calf down or the top half of his foot.
He chose to amputate from his calf, which gave him the option to have a bionic foot in the future.
For now, his focus is on recovering and learning to walk with his first prosthetic, which he will be fitted for in the next week.
While he'd "rather be fishing", the recent amputee is recovering faster than expected and should be released from Rockhampton Hospital this weekend.
The situation is almost unimaginable for some but Jason plans to take it in his stride.
His mentality is "it could have been worse" and since being told he will be able to do the two most important activities - crabbing and fishing - he knows he will be okay in the future.
A chance encounter Jason had five days before his accident is also never far from his mind.
He met a man with an amputated foot in Thailand who had the same procedure to partially remove his foot that Jason was offered.
Jason spoke to the man about his challenges and it's a conversation he won't forget soon.
Due to Stanage Bay's rural location, Jason has to live in Rocky for the next year to be close to the hospital but apart from learning to walk he can't wait to catch his first fish when he returns home.