10 May 2023

Pain was a 10 – Stingray survivor shares story

| Cape York Weekly
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LIAM Richards said the thought of dying didn’t occur to him after he was stung by a stingray on a Cape York beach last week – probably because he was in too much pain.

The Weipa school teacher said the half-hour between the sting and receiving treatment was the most painful period of his life.

“It was a solid 10 (out of 10),” Mr Richards recalled from his hospital bed in Cairns on Friday.

Enjoying the school holidays with his parents and girlfriend, who had flown up from Brisbane to enjoy some Cape York adventures, Mr Richards was walking in knee-deep water at Punsand Bay when the attack happened.

“I stood on the stingray and then it got me,” he said.

“The barb when right through my leg, coming out the other side.”

It damaged his achilles tendon and some lower leg muscles in the process.

“Someone managed to get enough reception to call 000 and we met the ambos on the Tip road,” Mr Richards said.

“I probably wasn’t thinking the worst; maybe because I could see the barb coming out the other side.

“The pain was the worst. The walk to the car was about the hardest thing.”

Once he was given morphine by ambulance officers, the pain eased a little bit.

Mr Richards was transferred to the Bamaga Hospital and had his legs placed in buckets of hot water, which immediately helped the pain.

He spent about 10 hours there before being sent to Cairns with the Royal Flying Doctor Service.

His family stayed behind.

“I told them to finish off their holiday,” Mr Richards said.

“I have had plenty of visitors in Cairns anyway.”

The school teacher had to go under the knife on Wednesday to flush out the wound to ensure there was no infection.

“I’ve got two big slices up my leg but I don’t feel too bad,” he said two days after the surgery.

“I’m hoping to get back to Weipa because we had booked a couple of nights at The Temple (on the east coast at Portland Roads) and I still want to go.”

Mr Richards will likely return to school on crutches in what will be his last term at Western Cape College.

The popular music teacher, who specialises in the sax, will head home to Brisbane at the end of the school year.

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