St Neots family’s bedside vigil as son remains in coma

Michael Calahane with a photograph of his son Connor

Michael Calahane with a photograph of his son Connor - Credit: Archant

The father of a teenage motorcyclist who sustained life-changing injuries when he hit a rope tied between two trees has spoken of his heartbreak as the family mount a bed-side vigil.

Det Con Tom Nuttall who is investigating the incident on April 24 in St Neots.

Det Con Tom Nuttall who is investigating the incident on April 24 in St Neots. - Credit: Archant

Michael Calahane, 38, said his son will undergo the first of three operations next week to repair damage he suffered to his neck and windpipe during the incident on April 24.

Connor Calahane-Toon is in a medically-induced coma at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge and his dad, mum Nicola Toon, 38, and sister Shaunna, 14, have been at his bedside constantly.

“We are all pulling together and looking out for each other,” said Mr Calahane. “It has been really hard. He is just laying there and there is no response – it’s heartbreaking.

“The hospital has said he should make a full recovery but it’s going to be a long road. His voicebox is okay, but there is some nerve damage on the left-hand side and also some muscle damage and because of that he is going to need speech therapy and physiotherapy.”

The 16-year-old, of Prince’s Drive in St Neots, was riding his Honda 85cc off-road motorbike in woods at Howitt’s Gardens when he hit thin blue twine that someone had tied at “head-height” between two over-hanging trees.

Mr Calahane told how Connor, who was wearing a helmet, sent a text message to his mum and a friend, who was also riding in the woods, just after 5.30pm to say he had been hurt.

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“He sent a message to his friend and his mum, and at that point his was breathing okay and talking, but a few minutes later he was struggling, he couldn’t talk and he was spitting blood.

“One of Connor’s friends untied one end of the rope from the tree because he was worried someone else would do the same thing.

“We know it wasn’t maliciously aimed at Connor, but whether it was personal against the bikers we just don’t know,” said Mr Calahane who made an appeal for information.

“Anyone who has any information, no matter how small or insignificant please get in touch with the police. It may be that two or three people come forward with several small pieces of information and it ends up being something crucial. We would also like to stress that we don’t want anyone taking the law into their own hands. We don’t wish any harm to the person who’s done it. It was silly and irresponsible but we want the police to deal with it.”

Connor, a former Longsands School pupil who is currently job-hunting, has received hundreds of Facebook posts, text messages and phone calls.

Detective Constable Tom Nuttall, who is investigating, made another appeal for information about the incident.

“We are asking members of the public who were in the area on Friday afternoon and Friday evening to try and remember if they saw anything suspicious that could help us piece together this incident.

“We are looking at two lines of enquiry: one that was malicious and the other that it was a prank that has gone horribly wrong.

“Unfortunately, for Connor, he has serious life-changing injuries. I am asking any parents out there who may know that their children were out there in the Howitt’s Garden area on that Friday to ask ‘did you see anything strange’ .

“We are looking at whether someone has maliciously put the rope between the two trees and unfortunately for Connor he is the first one round the trees and rode into the rope, which has had significant consequences for him or it could be that someone had done it for a wind up or a mess about and unfortunately it hasn’t been thought through properly.”

Det Con Nuttall confirmed that the rope was baling twine of a type used to tie straw bales and it is being examined by police.

INFORMATION: Contact police on 101 or Crimestoppers, anonymously, on 0800 555111.