Seven metal plates have been placed in cyclist Neville Carpenter's badly damaged face after he went over the handlebars when his front wheel locked tight in a fault on a bike path.
His face took the full impact of the fall on to concrete.
"It was like slow-mo - I went straight over the handlebars and face-planted. I didn't have time to put my hands out," Carpenter said from the couch of his Kohimarama, Auckland home.
Cyclist Neville Carpenter is recovering at home after surgery to repair serious facial damage caused when his front wheel jammed in a crack in a faulty shared path. Photo / Doug Sherring
"If you are going to produce a cycleway, it should be safe ... Some simple signage that there was a problem there and it would have been avoided."
Auckland Transport issued a public apology to Carpenter today after the Herald began inquiries.
The Auckland Council-controlled body disclosed it was notified of the faulty path more than a month ago and said contractors were now making the path safe until a permanent repair could be done.
Carpenter is recuperating from a six-hour operation on Monday in which seven surgical plates and 43 screws were implanted at Middlemore Hospital to patch his broken face back together.
The crash beside Great North Rd at Waterview on Sunday fractured his nose, jaw, both eye sockets and both cheeks. Carpenter counts himself lucky he wasn't concussed.
"My jaw, they wired it up in braces. That's why I'm talking a bit weird."
Eating is difficult too - he can consume only liquid foods and he can't suck on a straw.
At least one further operation will be required - plastic surgery to rebuild his nose. He has been told to expect to be off work for a fortnight.
Carpenter, an owner/manager of building supplies firm Timber World, was out for a 70km ride with his cycling mate Chris Tant on Sunday.
They had been out to Auckland Airport and had passed through Unitec to the shared cycleway/footpath beside Great North Rd where the crash happened just south of the BP station.
A crack in the faulty shared path beside Great North Rd in Waterview, Auckland caused cyclist Neville Carpenter to fall and suffer serious facial injuries. Photo / supplied
It was caused by a crack in the concrete - narrow, but wide enough to catch and instantly halt Carpenter's front wheel.
He estimates he was travelling at about 20km/h when catapulted forward.
"I recall there being people walking. I had dropped behind Chris for a few seconds while they went past. I moved out to go alongside him again and saw a crack in the concrete. I hit it and it was too late."
Tant, a former firefighter, called an ambulance, tended to his friend's profusely bleeding face with the help of a passing motorist's first aid kit, and flagged down an ambulance that happened to be passing.
Carpenter was taken first to Auckland City Hospital by ambulance and later transferred to Middlemore.
In a stern email addressed to Auckland Transport chief executive Shane Ellison today, Tant said he emailed the organisation's advice line on Sunday about the offending section of footpath.
He followed this up with a phone call to AT early on Monday morning, "stressing the extent of the injuries suffered ... and the urgent need to mark the hazard with at least a couple of road cones and/or some dazzle paint.
"I have had no follow up call and as of last night - three business days later - AT had done nothing to mark this hazard."
He took matters in hand and applied some dazzle paint last night, "so as to give other riders a chance to avoid a similar fate".
Minutes after the Herald approached AT today, Tant reported that an AT staffer had called him to apologise and to assure him it was making an urgent temporary repair with asphalt.
AT later confirmed these actions to the Herald, adding that it was notified of the faulty path by the Albert Eden Local Board on February 11.
"This path was built as part of the Waterview Tunnel project. This work was done by the Well Connected Alliance contracted by NZ Transport Agency," AT said.
"Part of the footpath has moved which has caused gaps; this isn't acceptable and should never have happened."
"We apologise to Mr Carpenter, we should have moved faster to make it safe."