Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Danny Pace, one of life's good guys

Ruth and I were invited to go for a cycle ride last weekend (20th & 21st August) by a close friend of hers, Danny Pace, who she's known since moving to Scotland some 12 years ago when he was an 18 year old boy doing some work at the same company she worked for as he was about to embark on his university degree.  They became firm friends and in her words, she and her friend Lee, also a Kiwi, corrupted the young Danny by insisting on dragging him along to repeated post-work Friday night drinking sessions in Edinburgh, and from then on they all became firm friends, with Ruth and Lee "watching" Danny as he completed his degree and as he, frankly, grew from a boy to a man.  Again in her own words, Danny became like a wee brother to her, albeit she's not all that much older than him.

The ride to which we were invited was up around Perthshire on Saturday and Sunday, but for various reasons mostly related to how busy we've both been lately we decided that we'd pass this time.  Danny and another couple, other close friends of his, went anyway, just the three of them, and they set off on Saturday from Dunblane I believe, heading generally towards Loch Tay and eventually aiming to be back down towards Glasgow over the two days.

On Sunday morning when I got out of bed I checked the BBC News website, as is my custom, and saw the following report.

Cyclist dies after falling off bike near Kenmore

A cyclist has died after coming off his bike in Perthshire and suffering a head injury.
Daniel Pace, who was from Edinburgh, was hurt on Saturday at about 15:00 near to Kenmore. The police said he was wearing a cycling helmet.  The 31-year-old was riding northbound along an unclassified road from Amulree to Kenmore when he came off his bike. An ambulance was called and paramedics treated Mr Pace at the scene but he died a short time later.  No other vehicles are thought to have been involved and his next of kin have been informed. A sudden death report will be submitted to the Procurator Fiscal.

It's now apparent that the three of them had been descending a hill on an unclassified road, with Danny in the lead, and he crossed a cattle grid which somehow caused him to come off the bike.  I don't know whether he skidded over it, he hit a raised part of it, or there was some other reason, but whatever happened it made him come off his bike and, despite wearing a helmet, suffer a severe head injury, so severe in fact that it killed him.  Danny was in no way a risk taker, he wouldn't have been travelling too fast.

I am a (very well trained) first-aider and for a day or so I agonised internally over what might have been the outcome if I'd been there.  Might I have been able to save the life of Ruth's close friend, a bloke I'd come to like and respect over the past few years since I first met him?  It turns out that the circumstances were that one of the couple riding with Danny is a qualified doctor, and soon after the accident a car pulled over containing two retired nurses.  So no.  I wouldn't have been able to do anything for him that wasn't already available.

Danny Pace was one of life's gentlemen.  Only 31 years old, but intelligent, thoughtful, funny, understated and, well, just a bloody nice guy.  He will be missed by a lot of people, not least Ruth.

If there's any comfort to be had from the tragedy of one so young losing his life, is that it happened while he was doing something he loved with two of his best friends, and after the initial impact he would not have been aware of anything, so his suffering was almost certainly minimal.

The photo of Danny on the right, which he used as his Facebook profile image for a while, was taken by me on the longest day in 2010 when he, Ruth and I walked to The Whangie to watch the sun set over Loch Lomond in the distance, while having a wee beer and scoffing sausages cooked on a disposable barbecue we'd taken with us.  A happy day!

His funeral is tomorrow in Edinburgh.  It's going to be a very emotional day.

They shall grow not old as we who are left grow old.  Age shall not weary them nor the years condemn.  At the going down of the sun, and in the morning, we will remember them.

1 comment:

  1. Gary, I'm so incredibly sorry to read this. Love and best wishes as you and others go through a tough time. Bet he enjoyed his friendship with you too, though, mate. Andrew K.