Katajisto lucky to be alive after his horror crash at Scunthorpe
Plymouth Devils debutant Kalle Katajisto cheated death by less than a inch in a two-bike crash at Premier League rivals Scunthorpe Scorpions.
Seconds into the third heat on his first appearance for the Devon club last Friday, Katajisto collided with team-mate Hynek Stichauer.
The Finnish rider, 22, ploughed into the surface of Scunthorpe's circuit and broke his jaw. Katajisto's helmet also crumpled on impact.
A piece of debris apparently sliced open his neck, narrowly missing a vital artery. The race was stopped and paramedics and Devils team manager Lee Trigger hurried on to the track to help the Finn.
NEW IN : for those cold winter nights highland check dog and cat beds in stock, fleecy and washable ideal for those nights snuggling by the fire...... available in 3 colourways
Contact: 01271 440626
Valid until: Saturday, January 25 2014
Trigger, who was first to reach the rider, said: "I've never seen anything like it – it was horrific.
"Kalle had a five or six-inch gash on his neck. I had seen that he had got up and I thought he was all right. But then he went down on one knee and took his helmet off.
"One of the paramedics told me afterwards that, if the cut was another half-an-inch long, it could have been fatal.
"He was conscious afterwards and talking to people while they gave him some morphine to dull the pain. Kalle behaved with dignity and courage."
Trigger visited Katajisto in Hull yesterday, where the rider is being treated in hospital.
He said: "Kalle has broken his jaw in a couple of places and the hospital is looking to operate on him and maybe put some titanium plates in to hold it together.
"Obviously, there's no way he's riding for us this season."
Trigger made it clear nobody was to blame for the accident.
He added: "Kalle was fast out of the gate and got tangled up with Hynek and that's all there was to it.
"It's a huge shame that he [Katajisto] should take four days to get here, he's eager to ride for us and looked quick, then the accident happened. But I was speaking to Kalle's dad afterwards and he said it was just speedway.
"I'd like to thank everyone at Scunthorpe speedway who helped out after the accident, particularly the paramedics, who were excellent.
"I was also very proud of my team. They were clearly shaken up by the incident, but they knew the show had to go on and they knew they had a job to do, so they got on with it the best they could.
"I did speak to Kalle and he seemed in good spirits."
The Devils lost the league meeting 56-34, although the result was largely irrelevant. They put in reserve Todd Kurtz to cover for Katajisto and the Australian took a creditable 12 points from seven rides.
The Devils have signed an immediate replacement in Michael Palm Toft, who has been released by Scunthorpe. He will make his Plymouth debut on Thursday night at Ipswich Witches.