Darren Hicks, the former truck driver who lost his leg in a horrific crash in Adelaide, has won a cycling silver at the Tokyo Paralympics.
Hicks, 36, had only been driving the sewerage truck for Cleanaway Operations for three days when the brakes failed as he came down a steep hill on the South Eastern Freeway in 2014.
Two people were killed and Hicks lost his right leg, but he also had a long legal fight to clear his name that left him a broken man.
Eventually, an expert report concluded the truck’s brakes had been faulty, and charges initially laid against him were dropped in 2018.
Hicks said he also drew strength from the support of Jan Spiess, the wife of Thomas Spiess, a man who died in the crash.
She wrote to Cycling Australia and told them her family believed the up-and-coming para-athlete was innocent and should be cleared as roadblocks emerged in his path to compete on the world stage.
Hicks now has a Paralympic silver medal to his name in the men’s C2 3000m individual pursuit, and concedes he doesn’t know what would have happened if he didn’t take up cycling when his world was caving in, reports The Sydney Morning Herald.
“Those first six months to two years of going through court and continuously seeing media and Facebook posts that were heavily against me [because] I was fighting to prove that I was innocent … it was bloody tough,” Hicks said.
“I used cycling as my way of working through my grief, working through my pain and not taking it out on myself in bad ways.
“Cycling and just the opportunities that were potentially going to be there if I managed to find my way in it, were huge. Without them, I sometimes question whether I would be around.”