Olympic rowing champion turned adventurer James Cracknell is out of intensive care after suffering a fractured skull and severe head injuries as the result of colliding with a truck in Arizona, USA, whilst cycling last week.

Cracknell left the intensive care unit in Phoenix hosptial after three days. Although improving, his condition is still serious as he has swelling to the frontal lobe of his brain. Recovery is likely to be slow, experts say.

Cracknell was attempting to cycle, row, run and swim from Los Angeles to New York within 16 days when the accident happened at around 5.30am on a quiet stretch of road outside Winslow, Arizona, on Tuesday, July 20. The trip was being filmed for the Discovery Channel.

“I was told that although he fractured his skull at the back, the brain injury is at the front, where his brain was catapulted forward as his helmet hit the road at high speed,” Cracknell’s wife, Beverly Turner, told the Daily Telegraph.

“He feels so passionately about bike safety and had just bought a new Alpina bike helmet that sits lower on the back of the head. It took the blow far more effectively than a normal helmet and kept the damage to a minimum.”

Cracknell was also planning on cycling from Canada to Mexico with fellow adventurer Ben Fogle. The 2,475-mile trip was scheduled to take place in August but has now been postponed.

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Cracknell fractures skull in collision with truck in Arizona

  • Taylor

    It’s a shame that this is an every day occurrence, and even in the small sport of rowing. Most of the guys on my team have at one point been injured by a reckless or angry driver while riding. Share the road!

  • Morten Lange

    @Steve Hopper: There is no anti-helmet rant. Not a rant and not anti-helmet. My intention was to put forward useful information, giving readers a more sobre view of helmet efficiency. I think people who like to use helmets should by all means continue to do so, but preferrably not trust them with their life.

    On the other hand the article and other media’s coverage constitute pro-helmet rants in a way, At least in my view, in a s much as they utilise this unfortunate accident to put forward very bold statements about the “efficiency” of the bicycle helmet in this particular instance, and effectively purport that the accident constitutes a valid datapoint in the ongoing debate on helmet efficiency, without even going into details of the speeds involved, specific type of injury, whether the helmet liner was compressed etc.
    If that had not been done, probably no-one would have pointed to more balanced and scientifically based information on the efficiency of helmets

  • Steve Hooper

    How on earth has the commenting on this article managed to descend into an anti-helmet rant. Can we not just wish the man well and get on with it without feeling compelled to wheel out the soapbox.

    ‘Road skills’ do not save you from being hit by a truck.


    Speedy recovery to James Cracknell.

  • Morten Lange

    I too hope sincerely that James will have a speedy recovery.

    But regarding the effect of helmets in individual crashes, one should be careful about jumping to conclusions.

    I hope those that are really concerned about safety would have the patience to read and consider with an open mind the following article :
    “A helmet saved my life” http://www.cyclehelmets.org/1019.html

    In general when attempting to draw conclusions about phenomena in this world, we have found that critical thinking and the scientific method, is what leads to the highest quality conclusions.
    It seems from “common sense”, that the earth stands still, and the skies revolve around the earth. But science tells us that is not so. Not very long ago, in some quarters cleanliness was not believed to have anything to do with health or sickness, but then bacteria were discovered.

    Bicycle helmets are designed to attenuate blows from flat surfaces or curbs to the head at “human speeds” of about 20 km/h.

    There has been large scale “testing” of helmets in real traffic conditions in Australia and New Zealand, with reasonalbly good data being collected. The conclusion of the “experiments” is “No clear evidence from countries that have enforced the wearing of helmets”


    See also the Wikipedia article Bicycle helmets for further informations and pointers to peer-reviewed studies, and http://www.cyclehelmets.org for critiques of many of the studies.
    The European Cyclists’ Federation has pages on helmets :

  • mark hall

    get well soon james ,there is no doubt that the helmet saved james , i still dont want to wear one there re to many people in cycling forcing there opinion on other people we all have achoice , if it makes you feel safe wear one if not dont road skills are far more important.thanks.

  • G

    Get well soon James! x

  • arronski

    Get well soon James…lucky escape.

    Anybody who doesn’t wear a helmet should read this….obviously saved his life.

    Will not ride my bike without a good helmet !… Far too many loonies driving cars, somebdy tried to run me down the other day swerved at me from the other side off the road had to ditch in the hedge, the lady driver looked pissed , it all happend too fast to get the reg…. WTF!